This was not the most encouraging victory in program history, but a win’s a win, an if the Maize and Blue build off it, nobody will remember that a first-year program gave them a scar in the season opener.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Cleveland State 2016|
|Faceoff Wins||15||Faceoff Wins||10|
|Offensive Efficiency||.342||Offensive Efficiency||.320|
Michigan won this game by being more polished in possession than the Vikings, with a bit of the closeness of the score related to U-M letting off the gas with leads of 6-1 and 13-5. The game was closer than it should have been: the scoreboard makes it look a little closer than it was.
Throw your hands in the air if you expected Tommy Heidt to start! (I did not). I do think he’s the better goalie on the roster, but thought there would be a bit of loyalty shown to Robbie Zonino, who’s stepped into some tough situations over the years. Heidt had the far better numbers, with a .700 save percentage while Zonino (albeit in garbage time) saved just one of three shots faced. It’ll be interesting to watch how the keeper situation plays out over the course of this season.
With Heidt putting together solid numbers, it’s a little worrisome that the Vikings still managed an offensive efficiency well north of .300. CSU got off more shots than Michigan (37 to 36) in many fewer possessions, and those weren’t all back-loaded in garbage time: 21 of them came in the first half. They weren’t particularly accurate shots – 23 on goal – but Michigan is going to have to tighten down defensively against squads that aren’t literally in their first-ever game of varsity lacrosse.
Mike McDonnell looks like a fine option on faceoffs, though (like every other part of this game), we’ll have to evaluate in much more depth once he’s playing someone who has a resume for comparison. 15/22 with four ground balls isn’t half-bad, though the wing play (and, in a lot of ways when it comes to the wings, probably some luck) helped him a great deal.
The offense was run by the expected players, though perhaps not in the expected ways: Ian King’s renaissance as a feeder continues, with four assists and no goals (with six shots, five on goal, that’s a major area for improvement, though his track record indicates that he’s not likely to have many days quite that bad). Brent Noseworthy was an offensive force with six goals on nine shots, seven of them on goal. A big year offensively, rather than “just” as a two-way player and clearing expert, out of Mikie Schlosser would be very big for the Michigan offense that needs some midfielders to step up. three goals, an assist, a booming truck stick on a clear… so far, so good.
As with other parts of the game, you’d like to have seen Michigan be a little less careless with the ball (11 turnovers, only four forced) against a team that was only going to be competitive, much less win, if the Wolverines self-inflicted a bunch of harm. First-game jitters and all that, but even a Lafayette team that was pretty bad last year should present a sterner test than the Vikings.
U-M welcomes Lafayette to Oosterbaan Fieldhouse Saturday at 4:00 p.m. It’s the Leopards’ first game of the season.