With a 12-4 loss at the hands of the Denver Pioneers on April 27, Team Two's season has come to an end. Although I was not able to see all of Michigan's games this year (and I didn't start writing about them until the Air Force game), I will do my best to give you a quick gut feeling/knee-jerk reaction to the season, and what I hope to see in the year(s) to come.
I know many people get caught up in statistics in this or that category, and the adjusted numbers for this scenario and that. They are certainly important and can give good insight into the whats and hows of a team's performance. I generally don't like stats; maybe it's because I can never keep them straight, and looking at a stat sheet can make my head feel heavy. Or, perhaps I'm just lazy; yeah, I think that's it. What I can tell you is that Team Two was down in almost every statistical category from Team One. Although they were down in offensive categories such as points, goals, and assists, they were also down in goals against (183 in 2012 to 165 in 2013). Team Two went up in shots attempted and shots on goal, as well. Where I get excited, though, is with the saves. Gerald Logan was a man all season long. Outside of prostitutes and porn stars, no one saw more balls than Logan. Michigan's saves went up 3.7 over prior year, and the save percentage went up by 4%. Oh, yeah, have I mentioned that Logan is a freshman? And that, dear readers, is the crucial point of this year. The youth of the Wolverines can't be emphasized enough.
Every game in 2013 saw mostly freshman and sophomores starting. Guys like Mike Hernandez and Kyle Jackson are building the foundation for what's to come with this program. With Jackson, we're getting that Canadian style of lacrosse that is infiltrating the American game. These are the kids who are taking tight shots at the crease, in heavy traffic, and who also take some big hits. Fearless. Just look at Mark Cockerton at Virginia; he's leading the nation in goals per game (and yet is inexplicably not a finalist for the Tewaaraton this year).
It isn't just Jackson, Hernandez, and Logan who make this team who they are, either. Brad Lott is solid at the face-off X, while guys like Will Meter, David McCormack, Mike Francia, and Chase Brown are killing it on the GBs (which are down by only 6 over last year). Yes, I'm making comparisons to last year's team, which also won only one game, but when you take into account the fact that this team is learning to play together, the results really aren't that bad. Did you actually expect them to come out and get into the NCAA tournament? I didn't. That doesn't mean that I'm happy with just the one victory, but there's a big picture that we need to be looking at...and it's a pretty picture.
Michigan has made a jump from Team One's "Hurgh!" up to "G'uh!". Next year's Team Three should improve to "Frag!" and Team Four will be...good; maybe NCAA tourney good. They'll definitely be respectable. I'm going to backtrack a little bit on my previous comment that the guys of Team Two are building the foundation. While that is true to a point, none of what we have seen over the course of the last two seasons would have been possible if not for the efforts of head coach John Paul and all of the guys who not only kicked ass at the club level, but worked their asses off to get the program elevated to D-1--whether that was the players' intention or not. Many of us probably had/still have other D-1 LAX programs that are near and dear to us. But all of us who love lacrosse in general, and are coming to love Michigan lacrosse in particular, need to say a heartfelt "Thank You!" to the MCLA teams who came before. Division 1 wouldn't have been done without you. Go Blue!