PONTIAC, Mich. — The Michigan lacrosse team initiated another volume to the encyclopedia of Wolverines’ athletics with their inaugural match against Detroit Mercy on Sunday. The Wolverines played in front of a packed house in the first collegiate varsity lacrosse match between two in-state teams in Michigan history.

Michigan showed both its inexperience and its promise with a 13-9 loss, as the team was unable to answer when Detroit pulled away with a flurry of unanswered goals in the third quarter.

Ultimately, it was inexperience that plagued the newly minted squad.

Michigan committed a few costly turnovers that sparked Detroit’s third-quarter run, failing to slow the game down or recover from their mistakes.

“Our defense let down a little bit in the third quarter, but it wasn’t just our defense,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We were making some mistakes offensively, giving away possessions. The mistakes add up. At this level, you just can’t make mistakes.”

Michigan struggled to recover late in the game, turning the ball over on several ill-advised passes that led to odd-man rushes for the aggressive Detroit squad.

The Wolverine team, which was a club team just a year ago, showed a lack of mental toughness displayed by more veteran teams.

“There is always this question in your head: ‘Are you ready for this?’ ” Paul said. “Getting out there and weathering the storm a bit defensively and then putting that first goal in, that goes a long way right there in giving the guys confidence.”

But Paul’s team showed its grit in the final minutes of the game. With under four seconds to go, Detroit was called for a penalty and the Wolverines got possession just inside midfield. Instead of waiting for the final horn, Michigan coaches continued to yell instructions and the players continued to attack the defense.

“We have the attitude of no excuses,” said sophomore midfielder Doug Bryant, who scored the first two goals in program history. “We take things on a day-by-day basis and look to get better every single time we play.”

Maintaining a positive attitude will be essential for the Wolverines as they try to build a program. The Wolverines’ performance showed that they are a work in progress, but the team showed it has some talent in its ranks.

“We are not always going to be the most talented team in Division-I lacrosse,” Paul said. “We know that, so we have to be the smartest team. That’s what we talked about after the game. We can play better if we play smarter.”

Building a program can take years, but Paul seems invested in making the rookie program into a seasoned competitor.

“We are not here just to be here,” Paul said. “We are here to become a great lacrosse program.”

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