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Lacrosse preview: Michigan vs Vermont

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Michigan will play the Vermont Catamounts for the first time on Saturday.

University of Michigan Photo Services

What: Michigan (2-2) vs Vermont (2-2)

Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

When: 1:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: BTN Plus; Live Stats

Michigan is back home after a few days in California, where they were finally able to beat a Delaware squad that was 2-0 all-time against against the Wolverines. This weekend, Michigan welcomes the Vermont Catamounts to the Big House. At 2-2, Vermont has wins against NJIT and Holy Cross, and losses against Jacksonville and Providence. Their 14.25 goals per game puts the Catamounts in the No. 11 spot for scoring offense in the country, but their competition hasn't been as stiff as what Michigan has faced so far--Vermont's opponents have a combined W-L record of 4-13 this season. Michigan's opponents are 9-7, but the Wolverines have already faced two tournament teams from last season (North Carolina and Colgate), and split them. So, yay for tougher schedule and conference?

Leading the way for Vermont are senior attackman James Barlow with 13 goals, and junior midfielder Ian MacKay with 12 goals. Barlow's 13 goals have come on 31 shots, for a shooting % of .419, with 21 of his 31 shots being on goal (.677). Our man, leading scorer Kyle Jackson, has 16 goals on 24 shots (.667), with 21 of 24 of his shots being on goal (.875).

With an overall offensive efficiency of .358, Vermont is a tick better than the Wolverines, who are at .327 so far. But, Vermont's efficiency is probably skewed by that win over NJIT, who lost four times by a margin between 14 and 17 points (including the 14-point defeat by Vermont).

Catamount FOGO (and possible French spy) Luc LeBlanc will be matched up against Brad Lott, and with almost-matching winning percentages (56% for Lott and 57% for LeBlanc), this game is going to be interesting at the faceoff. Can LeBlanc hold his own against Lott, who can sometimes play down to his competition, or will Lott continue his upward trend this season and dominate a guy who he should be able to handle?

On the defensive side of things, Vermont's Jon Kaplan is 2-1 in three games in net and has a save % of .635 to Gerald Logan's .526 save % in four games. Overall, the Catamounts defensive efficiency is at .261, while Michigan's is marginally better at .288 percent. Both teams are ranked in the top-15 in man-down defense--.800 (Michigan) and .792 (Vermont) respectively, so we'll see who can kill the most penalties.

Look for Vermont defensemen James Leary, Ben Cox, and LSM Henry Linde-Elmhirst to pounce on anything that the Michigan offense lets hit the ground; the three visitors have combined for 36 GBs, and also have 13 caused turnovers.

What I'm getting at is that this is going to be a close game...if we just look at the stats. However, Michigan's resume on the field so far is better than Vermont's. No disrespect to NJIT, of course. Michigan has been solid in the second and fourth quarters, scoring 26 goals to the opponents' 23, BUT the Wolverines have the tendency to come out a little cold in the opening frame, and have been outscored 12-9...which isn't even the bad news. The bad news is that Michigan has mustered only four goals in the third quarter, while the opposition has scored 12 times. Playing from behind is tough, even against "lesser" competition. If Michigan can stay to the positive in scoring during each quarter, we'll have a 3-2 squad and can send the Catamounts back to Vermont crying in their Chunky Monkey all the way.

Mmmmmmm...Chunky Monkey.