I managed to talk myself into being scared of this game… and I’m not yet sure why I was wrong. Are the Wolverines just improved? Was my expectation that Lafayette would be better with experience faulty because bad players are destined to remain bad? Stay tuned.
From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:
|Faceoff Wins||11||Faceoff Wins||15|
|Offensive Efficiency||.222||Offensive Efficiency||.425|
Michigan dominated possession, thanks to a slight advantage on faceoffs and a very clean day clearing the ball (and of course, their ability to stop Lafayette from making their possessions end meaningfully). A big advantage there, and a big advantage in efficiency, and you have yourself a blowout win.
My trend of making one terrible prediction and one great prediction continued with this game Saturday, since I thought it would be a tight matchup (wrong! Sad!), but also expected Ian King to shed the feeder role to be more of a goal scorer (I have all the best predictions). King scored five goals to lead the team, though it took him nine shots and eight on goal to get there. He’s been one of U-M’s more volume-oriented shooters when he’s in scoring-not-dishing mode, so it’s sort of something you have to deal with, and the obvious payoff of “scores five goals” is well worth the hassle.
Augmenting King’s production were three-goal, one-assist scorers Rocco Sutherland and Pat Tracy. Tracy found twine every time he launched a shot, and could have made a bit of an argument for moving into the starting lineup… except of course that Brent Noseworthy had a nice day feeding, including on Tracy’s man-up goal, so the distribution of tasks seems to be pretty logical right now. Noseworthy was credited with an assist on one of his own goals, so obviously there’s a scorekeeping mistake in there, as well.
Mikie Schlosser (2G, 1A) and Hank Adams (1G, 2A) had nice offensive days as well, on an afternoon where the scoring seemed to come pretty easy for the Maize and Blue.
The Smith brother duo on close defense seemed to work out well, with Dickson forcing a game-high three turnovers, and little bro Eric a solid three ground balls (tied for the non-goalie, non-FO specialist team-high with Sutherland). Andrew Hatton played alongside them but was statistically quiet, while Stefan Bergman caused a pair of turnovers as well, after coming in off the bench. The defense was very good at preventing looks for the Leopards, who put only 18 of their 42 shots on the cage.
…a big part of that solid defense was another great performance between the pipes from Tommy Heidt, who has certainly solidified his grasp on the top slot of the goalie depth chart, at least for the time being. He made 11 saves and allowed five goals (Robbie Zonino entered to close out the game and had one save and one goal against), with three of those goals allowed coming on the man-up. Heidt also collected seven ground balls – often an indication of clean saves – and yet didn’t turn it over once on the clear. A very nice day, indeed.
While it’s worth keeping in mind that this Lafayette team is probably pretty bad, eight of the Leopards’ 11 turnovers were forced by the Maize and Blue. That’s a bit more active defensively than we’ve seen in recent years. We’ll see if the absence of Gerald Logan has led to a bit of a change in strategy, or if it’s simply a matter of the opposition faced.
Mike McDonnell had a nice day on faceoffs, winning 13/20. Michael Sullivan was a .519 faceoff specialist last year, so that’s a pretty nice mark. Freshman Matt Dellacrose went 2/4, while seniors Brian Archer and Will Biagi each lost their only attempt – they’re looking more like depth players at this early stage of the season.
This was a super-sloppy one with 17 combined penalties, 12 of them committed by the Maize and Blue. Lafayette converted on four of eight man-up opportunities, while U-M turned both their EMO chances into scores.
It’s the big one. Michigan heads to Pontiac for the Titans’ indoor venue at Ultimate Soccer Arenas Wednesday for the in-state matchup. If this gets canceled because of snow I’m going to throw a fit, FYI.