March 19, 2013
The University of Michigan men's lacrosse team (0-8, 0-3 ECAC) returns home for the first time in five weeks and a 4,438-mile road trip to host the No. 9 Loyola (Md.) (6-2, 2-0 ECAC) Greyhounds Saturday at 3 p.m. (March 23) at Michigan Stadium. The home game is the second of the season, as U-M took on Penn State on Feb. 9 in Oosterbaan Hall, falling, 11-6.
Loyola's two losses this season came from top-15 opponents in No. 1 Maryland by a 12-10 count and No. 13 Duke by a 9-8 score. Loyola has outscored opponents 96-68 this season and outshot the opposition 309-260.
The Greyhounds boast one of the top offenses in the country, led by Justin Ward, who has 39 points (19g, 20a), and All-American attackman Mike Sawyer, who has 13 goals and two helpers in six games. Defensive preseason All-American Josh Hawkins returned for the Greyhounds against Georgetown on Wednesday (March 13) after missing the first portion of the season. He pairs with long-stick Scott Ratliff, who was a second team All-America preseason selection. Ratliff has six goals, leads the team with 42 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers. Blake Burkhart is the faceoff man for the Hounds, and is 62-of-118 at the X, good for 53 percent. Jack Runkel is the man in goal, stopping 50 percent of shots faced this season -- to go along with an 8.79 goals against average.
Fans who buy the five-game season ticket package will receive a 30 percent savings versus purchasing as individual tickets. There also will be access to the exclusive tailgate village, four free general admission tickets to any game, a discount at the M-Den, electronic ticket transfer capabilities and one priority point.
Kyle Jackson and Mike Hernandez are the two Wolverines in double digits in points, as Jackson leads with 17 (11g, 6a). Hernandez leads the team in assists with seven and has scored seven goals for 14 points. David McCormack is second on the team in goals with eight; Gerald Logan continues to lead the country in saves per game with 16 and total saves with 128. Additionally, he is No. 11 in the nation in save percentage at 57.4 percent.
Michigan's man-down and man-up units have excelled this season, as the Wolverines are killing off 75 percent of opponent opportunities this year, allowing eight goals in 31 changes to rank No. 2 in the conference. U-M is No. 3 in the ECAC in man-up goals with 10, averaging 1.25 per contest.
Freshman goalkeeper Gerald Logan established a new program record with 25 stops against Army on March 2 in Miami, and is the top save number in the NCAA . For his efforts, he took home ECAC Rookie of the Week honors. He is the second Wolverine ever to win the award, as Emil Weiss earned the award last year. Logan tied the previous record with 19 stops against the Nittany Lions, keeping U-M in the game in an 11-6 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions on Feb. 9. In the 12-6 loss against Bellarmine on Feb. 16, Logan made 17 saves and stopped 12 shots against No. 4 Johns Hopkins on Feb. 23. The Long Island native has made at least nine saves in every game this season, and his 128 stops rank No. 1 in the NCAA in total saves, and he is No. 1 in the NCAA in saves per contest at 16 per game. He also carries a 12.00 goals against average, and a 57.4 percent save percentage, which is 11th in the NCAA.
The loss against Johns Hopkins featured U-M going up against the No. 4 Blue Jays, the highest-ranked opponent U-M has ever faced. After being outscored 11-3 in the first half, U-M rallied in the second stanza and was outscored by a 6-5 margin. Michigan is now 0-6 against ranked opponents all-time and has been outscored by a 95-41 margin against those opponents.
Freshman Brad Lott was an instrumental in U-M winning the face-off battle for the first time this season, besting the Black Knight faceoff unit by going 9-of-17 at the X. Lott, the No. 1 faceoff specialist in last year's recruiting class according to ESPNHS heading into the season, made his collegiate debut in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., against Bellarmine going of 8-of-18 on faceoffs, including a 7-of-11 mark in the first half. Against Fairfield and Colgate, he went 25-of-40 at the X in the two contests (63 percent). He is now 55-of-109 on the season, good for a 50.4 percent mark which is No. 6 in the ECAC and No. 41 nationally.
U-M went 17-of-17 on clears against Colgate (March 17), marking the first time in program history the Wolverines were perfect on clears in a contest as a varsity program. It is also believed to be the first time a team coached by John Paul has gone perfect in the clearing game dating back to the team's club lacrosse days.
Against Fairfield on March 14, both Charlie Keady and Lott each had the first assists of their careers. Keady's assist was the first point for a U-M long pole this season, and the second in program history, as Austin Swaney scored a goal vs. Rutgers last season.
Senior close defender J.D. Johnson had a game-high seven ground balls against Penn State on Feb. 9, and he had a game-high six grounders against Army on March 2. Even after missing the last two games due to injury, he continues to lead the team in ground balls with 19, as well as caused turnovers with nine. Logan is second on the squad with 18, while freshman long pole Chase Brown is third on the team with 17 pickups, and attackman Will Meter has 16 pickups, with one coming in every game he has played in this season.
U-M took on Colgate Sunday (March 17) at Citi Field in what was the third men's lacrosse game in history being played at a Major League Baseball Stadium. The first was Navy vs. Johns Hopkins in 1971, a contest that was played at the Houston Astrodome, then the home of the Houston Astros. The attendance number in the 10-7 defeat to the Raiders of 15,656 is the 26th-most fans to ever watch a regular-season NCAA lacrosse contests.
Two players in sophomore Andrew Portnoy and freshman Peter Kraus scored their first career goals against the Bellarmine, as Portnoy scored the fastest goal to begin a game in Michigan history to open a contest, finding the back of the net 39 seconds into the contest. Kraus scored his first tally of his Maize and Blue career with 1:50 left in the first half of action. Both were of the unassisted variety.
Five newcomers have found themselves in the starting lineup for U-M in sophomore Mike Francia, junior Tom Sardelli and freshmen Gerald Logan, Kyle Jackson, and Mike Hernandez. Overall, 15 players have made their debuts in addition, Paxton Moore, Charlie Keady, Dan Kinek, Sam Martorella, Chase Brown, Brad Lott, and Peter Kraus. Most recently, Brendan Riefberg and Kevin Wylie debuted against Hobart.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Q: Talk about the pair of close contests last week. What type of goals did the team meet?
A: As a team, we look closely at statistics we deem important in swinging games in our favor. Throughout the season, our man-down stopping percentage has been meeting the goals set up by the team and staff. Brad Lott has been dominant in facing off recently, with the help of some great wing play lead by Chase Brown. We cleared at 100 percent against Colgate and rode very well in the Fairfield game. These small situational goals have allowed us to cut down on possessions and as a result have lead to closer contests. There are no moral victories at the DI level, but I'm proud of the strides we have made as a team. It is all starting to come together.
Q: As mentioned, the team was perfect on clears against Colgate. What does that mean to the defense overall?
A: It means that we are beginning to settle clears and make good decisions with the ball. The battle is only half won once Gerry (Logan) makes a save or we cause a turnover. Breaking the opponents ride is crucial to swing possessions in our favor, something we have identified as pivotal during this season. This is the only time in my five year career has Michigan gone 100 percent on clears' it is fulfilling to have aspects of the game going this well, once we piece everything together the product we put on the field is going to be hard to contain. It's coming. I'm excited for the second half of the season.
Q: What types of challenges does Loyola present?
A: Loyola brings an explosive quick offense, with the ability to score in the first seconds of every possession. Our 6v6 defense has done well this year; it's the transition game and slow-break offenses that present unique challenges. With a team like Loyola, the offensive midfielders and defense need to get on the same page, something we will work on all week. We will have a great plan to limit their chances quick in possessions. As always, Brad Lott at the faceoff X and Gerald Logan in the cage help boost both our offense and defense. I'm excited for a great game.
Q: What will it be like to finally play a home game in Michigan Stadium this season?
A: Playing at home in the Big House brings both a unique challenge for the visiting teams, and a big advantage for us to be here in Ann Arbor. After seven road games, we are ready to play at home in front of a Michigan crowd. The Extra-Man Club always brings the ruckus, something that helps bring confidence and momentum into a stadium that feels like home. Not needing to travel brings extra focus to our team and with the added rest I like our chances against opponents in the coming weeks. The Big House is our new home, I'm just hoping for decent weather.
Q: There have been several injuries on close D this year, with you being the lone constant. Do you have to change your game because of that?
A: I would say that the style of lacrosse remains the same, but the communication changes as guys rotate in and out. The way everyone chatters during a game is unique to certain people, and everyone needs to adjust to their calls and how to interpret where to be. I've enjoyed playing with new people. We have an entire defense capable of running against opposing attackmen. I'm proud of the way younger guys like Mack Gembis and Charlie Keady have stepped up to fill upperclass roles. With the necessity for people to play more, we have now become deeper and more skilled, not to mention added confidence. I'm excited for Austin Swaney and JD Johnson to get back on the field, as they are great defensemen.
Q: Outside of the contests in Connecticut and New York, what were your most memorable moments?
A: Closing out my career in Oosterbaan Field House against a great Penn State team. Ultimately, the games are what we are all here for, but many of my best memories come from off the field. As strange as it sounds, the long bus rides and grueling practices are things that stick out best. Just time being with the boys, we have become a close-knit team, and it is something I'll miss post graduation. Forty-four of my best friends surround me for about four hours a day; I can't begin to describe how much fun I've had with teammates over my half-decade career. Michigan lacrosse has changed my character for the better, been a life-impacting unique opportunity and allowed me to meet some of the people who have forever impacted me. Go Blue.
Saturday, March 30 -- vs. Air Force (Michigan Stadium), 3 p.m.