Penn State 22, Michigan 7
Okay, well, falling 22-7 to the eigth-ranked Nittany Lions on their home turf probably wasn't the way that Team Three wanted to start, but a start's a start, and I'm excited as hell to have lacrosse back. Just wait until this game is a Big Ten match-up!
Shane Sturgis (6 goals) and TJ Sanders (5 goals) were the stars for Penn State in the first quarter, putting the Wolverines in a pretty deep 8-goal hole. If you are new to lacrosse, keep in mind that anything over about a six-goal difference starts getting almost impossible to overcome. Sturgis also had one assist, bringing his point total to seven on the day, and resulted in his being named CAA Player of the Week.
It wasn't until 9:42 to go in the 2nd period that Michigan finally got on the board, when freshman Ian King scored his first career goal as a Wolverine to make the score 10-1. King scored for the second time at the start of the second half, and was assisted by Riley Kennedy, who had three assists on the day. David McCormack, Mike Hernandez, Thomas Paras, Mikie Schlosser, and David Joseph rounded out the Michigan scoring with one goal each.
Although a plethora of goals against Michigan was to be expected, 22 is brutal, and it is clear that the absence of Michigan goalie Gerald Logan is going to put more pressure on the offense to score. The seven points scored last weekend isn't too far off of last season's 7.64 goals per game average, but it just won't cut it against tournament teams like Penn State.
Valentine's night will see the Wolverines take on the Mercer Bears, who beat Boston University (who is new to D-1) 17-6 on February 8. Michigan has faced Mercer once before, and it just happened to be the Wolverines' first D-1 victory (14-4) back in 2012. The Bears play in the Atlantic Sun conference, and you can check out some info on said conference and Mercer here. Friday's game starts at 7 p.m. in Oosterbaan Field House.
I know virtually nothing about Mercer lacrosse other than the little tidbit about them above. College Crosse has a good look at how the 2013 season went for the Bears.
Three of Mercer's first four games are against pretty young programs: Boston University, Michigan, Detroit-Mercy, and Richmond. So they have an easy schedule to start the season, but things get a little tougher in April when the Bears face Air Force and Bellarmine. A March match-up against UMBC will not be a walk in the park, either. The rest of their schedule probably calls for something close to .500 to finish the year.
A look at the Mercer roster shows that they have seven freshmen on attack and six midfielders; add seven freshmen defenders, and this team is incredibly young. Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Nugent played damn near every minute of Mercer's games last year, so he will clearly be charged with keeping the cubs (see what I did there?) on task.
Michigan should be able to handle this young Mercer team, but it isn't going to be easy. Robbie Zonino started between the pipes for the first time last week, and Mike D'Alessio also saw some action, but Michigan will need to find some consistency at the goaltender position if they want to avoid similar results to last week. I still think Michigan wins tomorrow, but it will be close: 12-11.