Michigan 13, Bellarmine 5

Michigan Wolverines Lafayette Leopards lacrosse

File photo (via U-M Media Relations).

Bellarmine has been an up-and-down team from a Michigan perspective, both in terms of how they play the Maize and Blue and just what quality of opponent they’ll be in a given year. In 2017, they were an easy win… but unfortunately, that appear to be in large part because they’re not any good.

Tempo-Free

From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:

Bellarmine 2016
Michigan Bellarmine
Faceoff Wins 13 Faceoff Wins 8
Clearing 15-19 Clearing 12-16
Possessions 36 Possessions 28
Goals 13 Goals 5
Offensive Efficiency .361 Offensive Efficiency .179

Both teams had their fair share of trouble clearing, but Michigan won the faceoff dot handily, and was far, far more efficient than the Knights, resulting in the easy win.

Notes

The offensive efficiency was more-than solid for Michigan, which is made al the more impressve by the fact that they started out cold, cold cold. U-M shot 13 times before finally finding the back of the net, and with only two total saves for Bellarmine in the first quarter, that means at least 10 of those 12 misses to open the game weren’t on-cage. That’s no good.

Fortunately, Michigan settled in very nicely once they did finally get on the board, with an extremely prolific day on offense. Brent Noseworthy led the way with five goals and an assist, and six other Wolverines had multi-point days. Rocco Sutherland and Ian King had three and two assists, respectively, Decker Curran and Patrick Tracy each had a pair of goals, and PJ Bogle and Avery Myers had a goal and an assist apiece.

With a game that was out of hand by halftime (or certainly within the first few minutes of the third quarter), it was good to see some guys get a bit of significant run for the first time this year – depending on whatever you call the fourth quarter against Detroit.

Though both teams failed on four clears – which is pretty bad, though the Bellarmine style of being a heavy-ride team combined with their pretty poor clear explains part of it – this wasn’t a particularly turnover-prone contest. There were 23 between both teams, and even though this was a somewhat-slow game, that doesn’t feel like a particularly high number.

Goalie Tommy Heidt, as will be the case many times this year, was one of the most important performers for the Maize and Blue. He allowed five goals while making 11 saves (.688 save percentage), and has established the bar such that anything below .667 is going to be a disappointment. That’s probably not fair, especially given that the competition is going to get tougher, but such are the downsides of success.

Michigan was very solid on faceoffs, and it was actually Matt Dellacroce (4/6) who outperformed starter Mike McDonnell (9/15). Establishing multiple successful options there will be important for Michigan, and something they’re going to continue to work on when they can. McDonnell will be the guy in competitive games for now, but the more comfortable the staff can get with Dellacroce, the better.

Michigan’s man-up was 1/6 on the day, which can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Given that the total numbers (a couple weeks later) are 7/14, it can be viewed as just an aberration – and an indicator that the score of this game could have been worse. It can also be seen as a chink in the armor that good teams will be able to exploit. I lean more toward the former.

No statistical performances on the defensive side of the ball (outside of Heidt’s) stand out, but a couple team stats look pretty shiny: the outstanding Tucker Ciessau scored two goals, but it took him five shots on goal to get there, and 11 total shots. That means fewer than half his shots were on-cage, a solid indicator of good team defense on the opponent’s best player. Of course, on the other hand, Ian King managed to put only one of his eight shots on cage… but his team won by eight so whatever.

Elsewhere

Michigan recap. Bellarmine recapBoxscore.

Up Next

Michigan’s undefeated start to the season came to a bitter end in South Bend.

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The Next Level: March 6, 2017

Our weekly look at Michigan natives who are playing college lacrosse at Division-1 institutions this Spring.

Bellarmine 10, Detroit 13

  • Senior attackman/midfielder Graham Macko (Brother Rice) – Took one Shot on goal.
  • Freshman attackman Morgan Macko (Brother Rice) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Bellarmine 11, Ohio State 14

  • Senior attackman/midfielder Graham Macko (Brother Rice) – Scored a Goal on his only Shot.
  • Freshman attackman Morgan Macko (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Binghamton 12, Hobart 6

  • Junior midfielder Liam Reaume (Brother Rice) – Scored a Goal on six Shots (three on goal), added an Assist, and won his only faceoff attempt.

Canisius 17, Cleveland State 7

  • Sophomore defenseman Logan Monroe (Holt) – Started, caused two turnovers, and picked up three ground balls. Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Keith Pravato (Novi) – Took one Shot. Also committed one turnover.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Steve Wizniuk (De La Salle) – Did not see game action.

Cleveland State 7, Canisius 17

  • Freshman defenseman Levi Peterson (Holt) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Freshman defenseman Garrett White (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Colgate 5, Lehigh 11

  • Freshman attackman Cooper Belanger (Detroit Country Day) – Did not see game action.

Detroit 13, Bellarmine 10

  • Senior attackman Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started, recorded an Assist, and took four Shots (none on goal). Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored a Goal on eight Shots (four on goal), and recorded one Assist.
  • Freshman defenseman Nick Boynton (Troy Athens) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Adam Findlay (Detroit Catholic Central) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one turnover.
  • Junior attackman Alec Gilhooly (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored a Goal on five Shots (two on goal), added two Assists, caused one turnover, and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Benjamin Gjokaj (Walled Lake Northern) – Won 6/9 faceoffs, picking up three ground balls. Also committed one turnover.
  • Sophomore midfielder Emmett Green (Birmingham Seaholm) – Recorded one Assist, caused one turnover and picked up one ground ball.
  • Freshman attackman/midfielder Blake Grewal-Turner (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Jack Harrop (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Charlie Hayes (Utica Eisenhower) – Recorded an Assists, took one Shot on goal, and picked up three ground balls. Also committed one penalty for 0:30.
  • Senior midfielder JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Sam Horton (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Alex Jarzembowski (Detroit Catholic Central) – Won 12/18 faceoffs, picking up five ground balls, and took one Shot on goal.
  • Junior midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Picked up one ground ball.
  • Junior midfielder Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Started and picked up one ground ball.
  • Freshman midfielder Jackson McElhenney (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder Bo Pickens (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Austin Ross (Warren Mott) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Charlie Schiefer (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman goalie Logan Shamblin (Troy) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Travis Sparling (Novi) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman/midfielder Adam Susalla (Birmingham Seaholm) – Took one Shot on goal. Also committed one penalty for 0:30.

Detroit 6, Marquette 8

  • Senior attackman Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started, took five Shots (one on goal), and caused one turnover. Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored two Goals on four Shots (all on goal), and picked up one ground ball. Also committed two turnovers.
  • Freshman defenseman Nick Boynton (Troy Athens) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Adam Findlay (Detroit Catholic Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman Alec Gilhooly (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started and took two Shots (both on goal).
  • Senior faceoff specialist Benjamin Gjokaj (Walled Lake Northern) – Won 1/3 faceoffs.
  • Sophomore midfielder Emmett Green (Birmingham Seaholm) – Recorded one Assist.
  • Freshman attackman/midfielder Blake Grewal-Turner (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Jack Harrop (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Charlie Hayes (Utica Eisenhower) – Played, but only made the coresheet by committing one penalty for 0:30.
  • Senior midfielder JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Sam Horton (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Alex Jarzembowski (Detroit Catholic Central) – Won 3/7 faceoffs, picking up one ground ball.
  • Junior midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Won 4/7 faceoffs, picking up one ground ball.
  • Junior defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Started, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Freshman midfielder Jackson McElhenney (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder Bo Pickens (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Austin Ross (Warren Mott) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Charlie Schiefer (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman goalie Logan Shamblin (Troy) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Travis Sparling (Novi) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman/midfielder Adam Susalla (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.

Drexel 7, Marist 11

  • Freshman faceoff specialist Ian Foster (East Lansing/IMG Academy) – Went 0/1 on faceoffs.

Duke 9, Richmond 8

  • Junior midfielder Matthew Giampetroni (Cranbrook) – Did not see game action.

Fairfield 6, Stony Brook 9

  • Freshman defenseman Brian Cosgrove (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

High Point 12, Virginia 18

  • Freshman defenseman Luke Cappetto (Brother Rice) – Recorded an Assists, caused one turnover, and picked up three ground balls.

High Point 7, Robert Morris 9

  • Freshman defenseman Luke Cappetto (Brother Rice) – Picked up one ground ball.

Manhattan 6, St. Joseph’s 18

  • Sophomore midfielder Robert Carroll (Grosse Pointe South) – Won 1/4 faceoffs.

Marquette 6, Ohio State 12

  • Sophomore midfielder Bob Pelton (Forest Hills Northern) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder John Wagner (Cranbrook) – Started and took one Shot (not on goal). Also committed one turnover and one penalty for 0:30.

Marquette 8, Detroit 6

  • Sophomore midfielder Bob Pelton (Forest Hills Northern) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder John Wagner (Cranbrook) – Started and scored a Goal on four Shots (two on goal). Also committed two turnovers.

Michigan 11, Mercer 6

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Did not see game action.

Michigan 7, Furman 5

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Did not see game action.

Notre Dame 5, Maryland 4

  • Sophomore defenseman Michael Langdon (Cranbrook) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic (Brother Rice) – Started, took eight Shots (three on goal), and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.

Penn 13, Penn State 14

  • Freshman midfielder Alex Minanov (Grosse Pointe Liggett) – Did not see game action.

Providence 8, Sacred Heart 10

  • Junior midfielder Josh Keller (East Grand Rapids/Kent School) – Did not see game action.

Richmond 8, Duke 9

  • Senior attackman J.P. Forester (Brother Rice) – Scored three Goals on eight Shots (six on goal), and picked up two ground balls.

Robert Morris 9, High Point 7

  • Freshman long-stick midfielder James Scane (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Stony Brook 9, Fairfield 6

  • Sophomore midfielder Nathan Richards (Lapeer West) – Did not see game action.

Syracuse 14, Virginia 13

  • Freshman midfielder Nick Martin (Detroit Country Day) – Did not seegame action.

UMass Lowell 6, Monmouth 7

  • Sophomore goalie Grant Lardieri (Forest Hills Northern) – Started and played 60 minutes. Allowed seven goals while making 9 saves, for a save percentage of .563, and collected three ground balls.

Yale 6, Bryant 9

  • Junior midfielder Jason Alessi (Brother Rice) – Took one Shot (not on goal) and picked up one ground ball. Also committed two turnovers.
  • Senior midfielder John Lazarsfeld (Ann Arbor Greenhills) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

If I’ve messed anything up, let me know in the comments, where you can also feel free to share statlines from other divisions.

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Detroit Preview: Marquette

UDM got its first big win of the year a couple days ago in Milwaukee… so let’s play two? The competition gets much tougher against Marquette, but this also isn’t the Golden Eagles team of the past couple years.

Marquette

Marquette Golden Eagles Lacrosse logo

Not many good Marquette lacrosse logos available on the internet :/

March 5, 2017, 3 p.m. CST
Milwaukee, Wisc.
Live stats. Video.
Detroit preview. Bellarmine preview.
@UDMLax. @MarquetteMLax.

The Golden Eagles

Marquette developed into a darling of last year’s lacrosse world (after a couple years building a good reputation), beating Denver in the Big East championship to earn a home NCAA Tournament game – which resulted in a very close loss to North Carolina. However, the Golden Eagles have started 2017 just 1-2.

Yes, that win came by an eye-popping 17-1 scoreline, but the losses weren’t much less eye-popping in the other direction, a 9-2 setback to Richmond and a 12-6 beating at the hands of Ohio State just Friday. This is a team that has scrimmaged Michigan in the preseason the past few years, looking weaker than the Wolverines before going on to have a much, much better season when the lights came one. They handled U-M in a relatively even matchup this year, but it seems that preseason scrimmage result is the opposite of what they need to put together a solid run.

The problem? Detroit is probably closer to the caliber of Jacksonville than either Richmond or Ohio State (though the Titans’ loss to OSU to open the season was theoretically a little more competitive than Marquette’s).

Offense

 

Despite a 17-goal outburst in the season-opener, this has not been a particularly productive Marquette offense. Averaging only 8.3 goals per game when taking into account such a beatdown is not great, Bob. Since the Jacksonville blowout allowed several depth players to get on the board (fourteen different goal-scorers), there’s not yet much stratification at the top.

Sophomore midfielder Ryan McNamara has established himself as the top feeder (partially because he’s been starting at attack, despite his listed position), with nearly half the team’s 11 assists (five of them, in fact), and two goals to his name to lead the squad in scoring. He’s the only Eagle with multiple assists so far this year. Two of the starting midfield – sort of attack-sized dodgers in the Joe Amplo system – are the next two leading scorers with junior Tanner Thomson leading the way in goals with four, while adding an assist, and senior Andy Demichiei notching a pair of goals plus an assist.

Freshman attack Dylan Dobrosky is downright lilliputian, even at a position that traditionally boasts plenty of little guys, standing just 5-6, 150. He’s got the same scoreline as DeMichiei. The third starting attackman, senior Joe Dunn, is more of a bigger guy – your crease-man, rather than a dodger, but so far has two goals and no assists.

A player I’m expecting to break out a bit when (if?) the Marquette offense gets going is former Cranbrook standout John Wagner, a 6-2, 200-pound Canadian middie. He was the fifth-leading returner from last year’s offense, and with the Blaine Fleming role vacated due to graduation, he can take a bit of that production.

Defense

The Marquette defense has actually been pretty good so far this year, despite a couple of lopsided losses (and thanks in part to the lopsided win, sure), notching a .242 defensive efficiency. That’s despite losing some straight-up stars from last year’s team: LSM Liam Byrnes, close defender B.J. Grill and SSDM Jacob Richard – now members of the staff – and so on. Will the defense come back to earth a bit when 35% of their total possessions (and about 32% defensively) came against someone other than Jacksonville? Remains to be seen.

Grill’s younger brother, freshman Nick, has started all three games thus far at close defense alongside the lone returning starter, senior Nicholas Eufrasio, and sophomore Jackson Ehlert. This is not a CT-heavy defense, with only Eufrasio averaging a caused turnover per game. Junior Colin Riehl and senior Noah Joseph are the key SSDMs, but at least from a statistical perspective, it’s tough to tell who the top LSM is (a far cry from last year’s squad, where Byrnes was the star of the D). This is not a particularly scary defense from an individual perspective, but at least so far, the overall production indicates the whole is more than  the sum of the parts.

That’s thanks to goalie Cole Blazer, a part-time starter last year who has played just about every meaningful minute in 2017, and done very well in that time. He’s saving .656 of shots faced (propped up by seven saves and no goals against in the Jacksonville game, sure), and is doing yeoman’s work behind a defense that has left him a little exposed at times.

Special teams

Marquette has been a pretty good faceoff team the past couple years, and returned Zach Melillo, but hasn’t been giving him most of the draws (to ill effect). He’s won .565 of his 23 draws – good-not-great – while junior Owen Weselak has won just .348 on the same number of attempts, an freshman Jared Hershman is just 3/9. This could be an opportunity to equalize the game with Ben Gjokaj (and, incresingly, Alex Jarzembowski).

Another area of opportunity? The clearing game. The Eagles do. not. ride. with only three opponent fails so far in three games. If the Titans don’t shoot themselves in the foot – obviously not a guarantee, or even a likelihood – they should be able to get into the settled offense. Coming the other direction, Marquette’s clear has been mediocre-to-poor (no surprise with a young defense and SSDMs), with a trio of fails in each game. Detroit has shown a bit of ability to ride, and this may be the game to break that out in a heavier implementation.

The penalty game has not been particularly notable in either directions, except inasmuch as Marquette doesn’t go man-down or man-up a lot. Both the Golden Eagles and opponents have three EMO goals this year, on slightly more attempts for opponents. Not much either way there.

Overall

I do think Marquette is a better team that Detroit, but the difference is not as great as you might expect given the recent fortunes of each squad. That means a bigtime opportunity to collect a “name” win, without having to play a team quite as good as that name implies.

Of course, there’s still the little issue that, no matter how much of a step back MU has taken from last year, they’re still a better team than the Titans, and they’re still playing at home. Without a full-strength Detroit squad (however much a previously little-known player like Seth Mendell breaking out feels good, I’d like to have a Mark Anstead in the lineup any day), simply getting better here – on the slow march to good form by the start of MAAC play – is a reasonable result, if not the preferred one.

Predictions

With a weakened Marquette team, Detroit has the chance to make some noise. Will it happen?

  • Unlike an offense like Bellarmine’s (still a lot of Canadian influence, but only one really good dodging attackman in Ciessau), I think this Marquette team, with all its little dodgy guys, is a tough matchup for Detroit. With Weber between the pipes, I’d much rather have semi-open shooters from 8-10 yards than a lot of ability to get to the crease via dodge or feed. I think Weber has his worst save% day of the year so far.
  • Faceoffs could be an interesting battle, and one that helps Detroit really surprise people. While Melillo is a good player, so too is Ben Gjokaj, and getting to a stalemate there probably sees Marquette try some other specialists, at which point UDM’s superior depth of good specialists wins out. I think that happens, and the Titans finish above 50% on the day.
  • Along with the above, Detroit has the opportunity to win the possession game overal thanks to a Marquette clear that is only OK (not that UDM’s is spectacular, but the Golden Eagles have negative interest in exploiting that phase of the game). If Detroit can tilt the possession game by maybe a half-dozen opportunities, they have a chance to win the game.
  • I’m not sure how the offense will do against this Marquette defense. They don’t have a style that scares me – no caused turnovers, really – but the success so far speaks for itself. Detroit has shown the ability to turn it over without all that much help from opponents, and that’s been the consistent issue.

I’m very, very close to picking the upset here, but am scared to show too much faith in Detroit until they give me good reason. This Marquette team has taken a step back, but this also hasn’t proven to be one of the best UDM squads in recent years, either. In Milwaukee, Marquette gets it done, 11-8.

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Michigan preview: Furman

Michigan wraps up its short spring break roadtrip in South Carolina this afternoon, taking on Furman. Can the Wolverines enter the home stretch of the non-conference schedule on a hot streak?

Furman

Furman Paladins lacrosse

I feel like joust-as-lacrosse-stick is an underused graphic gimmick here. Step it up.

March 4, 2017, 1 p.m. EST
Greenville, S.C.
Live stats. Video.
Michigan preview. Bellarmine preview.
@UMichLacrosse. @UofMLaxManagers.
@FURMANLAX.

The Paladins

Furman feels pretty similar to a lot of the other recently-added-to-D1 Southern teams: they started weak for a year or two, got much stronger, much faster than anyone expected… and couldn’t maintain that momentum and now just aren’t very good.

This edition is 1-4, albeit with a couple pretty good losses (by four to UNC, by six on the road at Ohio State), but a couple that aren’t so hot (losing at home to Vermont – albeit in overtime – and also to Sacred Heart). The win is also over one of the nation’s worst teams, Mount St. Mary’s. So: not a particularly good team.

Offense

 

The Paladins actually have almost no offensive players who have started every single game, but it’s still pretty easy to determine who the key factors are in the offense.

Freshman midfielder Lou Yovino and sophomore linemate William Holcomb have combined to account for more than a third of the team’s total shots, with nine goals each and a single assist between them (from Yovino): they are your finishers. Fellow midfielder David Williamson has five goals and a single assist, indicating that this is not a dodge-and-feed scheme from the midfield. They finish plays that are set up by the attackmen, or shoot off their own dodges.

At attack, senior Graham Dabbs has five goals and three assists, while junior Jonah Moore has four goals and five assists. The high-volume feeder (and the only player in the offensive end of the field to start every game thus far) is senior Steven Wierzbicki. At 5-9, 160 pounds, he’s likely to be your classic dodge-from-X assist man.

Defense

As bad as the offense has been, this isn’t a particularly weak Furman D. They’re right around .306 in defensive efficiency despite games against pretty good OSU and North Carolina teams (and perhaps with LaxPower’s ratings behind a paywall now, it’s time to get into the tech side of things and see if we can re-initiate TFL so we’d have fully-adjusted numbers there).

Goalie Alec Van de Bovenkamp is a big part of that success on defense: his save percentage is only .569 – good-not-great – but he’s replaced Reilly McDermott, who was struggling under .300 to start the year, which has resulted in a huge leap forward for the D.

Seniors Tommy Farnish and Joe Stone have started all five games with poles. Stone is an LSM, and the team’s leader in caused turnovers (seven in five games isn’t half-bad), and has a goal on three shots so far. He may not be the most dangerous pole with the ball in his stick, but he’s at least a willing participant in the offense. Brandon Bank, a freshman, is among the leading GB acquirers on the team, despite no starts, so it’s likely he’s fourth pole who is getting the snub in the starting lineup so Stone can be listed.

SSDMs John Vandenberg and J.J. McDaid both have double-digit ground balls with just four shots total between them (all From Vandenberg). Vandenberg does have a bit of offensive willingness, but is a caused turnover specialist and a key to the defense – he’ll likely cover the Wolverines’ best offensive midfielder that doesn’t draw a pole (likely Schlosser getting poled with Curran covered by Vandenberg).

Special teams

Part of the quality of Furman’s defense is based on the fact that their ride has been quite good. They’re holding opponents to .792 (generally, under .800 is outstanding), and while the strength-of-schedule factor comes into play, it’s something to watch regardless. The flipside of that is that they’re only OK at clearing themselves, so they give away enough of those possessions anyway.

The faceoff game has gone very well. Senior (this is a pretty senior heavy team, making it all the more disappointing that they aren’t particularly good) Hill Blaze has taken all but a handful of draws, winning .588 of them, though without getting a ton of his own GBs. My working theory – and one that I haven’t tested with any scientific rigor, so it could be totally my imagination – is that specialists who don’t get a ton of their own ground balls are more likely to be up-and-down on a given day, because they’re relying more on teammates and sheer luck.

The Paladins are committing half the penalties that opponents are (though even opponents’ four per game is not super-high, so they’re just a clean team, in a lot of respects), but their man-up offense is really bad – .219 conversion rate – and the MDD is allowing opponents to convert 60% of the time. They want to stay out of the box themselves, and don’t particularly care if they get EMO opportunities.

Overall

Furman has a bit of talent, so while they aren’t expected to be a particularly good team, it’s a little surprising to me that the results have been quite as bad as they are. Especially when taking into account that the Paladins were relatively competitive with Ohio State and North Carolina, they have no business losing to Vermont and Sacred Heart in the manner that they did. They could round into form and be a breakout team in the SoCon, but this is also a squad that shouldn’t give the Maize and Blue a ton of trouble.

From Michigan’s perspective, winning this game is imperative, not just to avoid the bad loss (something a Michigan team hasn’t done in six years, based on my memory alone), but to build  solid record as conference play approaches. Winning this one sets up a nice game with Penn next weekend, before a should-win against UMBC to take us into Big Ten play. An 8-1 Michigan team going into the conference games would surely be ranked, even if only one or two of the wins will be good ones.

Predictions

I’m not a huge fan of this Furman team, which feels like it’s underachieved. On the flipside, it could be rounding into form.

  • The Paladins are too dependent on outside shooting to make a huge dent on this Michigan defense. A very good goalie and some outstanding SSDMs should be able to take away the bombs of Yovino and Holcomb, and Tommy Heidt will notch a save percentage over .667.
  • Furman’s strength on defense is in the SSDMs, for the most part (though the senior-laden close D isn’t bad), but that plays into Michigan’s strengths, as well. A double-hatty day for Ian King and Brent Noseworthy is possible. They could also be draw-and-kick type players, so look for King at least to notch a couple assists. A five-point day for U-M’s all-time leading scorer?
  • Michigan’s clear has been mostly good, with some really questionable moments – especially on the road Thursday evening. Look for the Paladins to ride hard in hopes of getting easy opportunities for an offense that hasn’t broken out yet, and to deny Michigan the opportunity to settle in and run its own offense. That should lead to a pretty fast-paced day, with heavy rides either being broken for unsettled goals, or succeeding to produce fast-break chances the other way.
  • I think Mike McDonnell is a good faceoff specialist, but what Blaze has done so far with a mediocre supporting cast around him is not to be discounted. This could be a pretty good battle on draws, and one that may end up close to 50/50, unless McDonnell’s wing play is a difference-maker.

Am I ready to stop giving the caveat “Michigan should win, but we’ve seen them drop this one over the years?” Not quite yet. However, based on the teams’ relative strength so far this year, it’s pretty clear which the better squad is. Unless all goes to Hell, Michigan wins, 16-7.

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Detroit Preview: Bellarmine

Detroit takes on Bellarmine in Milwaukee for Marquette’s annual event (that also includes Ohio State, but the Titans and Buckeyes never meet up there, because they start the season against each other).

Bellarmine

Bellarmine Knights lacrosse

Fear the stylized Knights!

March 3, 2017, 2 p.m. CST
Milwaukee, Wisc.
Live stats. Video.
Detroit preview. Bellarmine preview.
@UDMLax. @BUKnights.

The Knights

Bellarmine has gotten itself off to a 1-2 start to the year, losing a close one to Robert Morris (10-8) and getting its teeth kicked in by Michigan (13-5). However, they recovered for a nice win against Quinnipiac, and, well, unfortunately Detroit will be the worst team they’ve seen so far this year, with losses to the two teams that have beaten Bellarmine by a combined 14 goals.

The Knights have come and gone as a pretty decent team, but so far it doesn’t seem like 2017 will be one of the up year.

Offense

From the Michigan edition of this very preview:

Tucker Ciessau… had a pretty nice season (23G, 13A), and will play both midfield and attack in 2017 – starting at attack against Bobby Mo. Fellow attack starter Ryan Coukoulis had basically no production as a part-time starter (he also missed multiple games due to injury, in his defense), but the diminutive 5-9, 160-pounder scored two goals in three shots against the Colonials. Freshman (and Brother Rice grad) Morgan Macko was the third starter up front.

Midfielder Andrew Schoenick has been the second-leading scorer so far at this point, while Coukoulis and Macko have yet to start again. Jack Perkins is right behind Schoenick, and with the outstanding Ciessau, that trio forms the nucleus of the offense.

With a few good poles and a typically strong set of SSDMs (albeit banged up at this early stage in the year), Detroit actually has a decent matchup for Bellarmine on this end of the field. Make them get it done outside by taking away Ciessau, and suddenly you have a chance for Jason Weber to steal the game for you.

Defense

From the Michigan version:

Evan Kalish was a starter at both LSM and close D last year, though, he he will step in to be a key member of the defensive unit. The lone returning D starter (at least full-time) is Kevin Fahey, though he didn’t garner preseason all-conference honors (the only Knight who did was Ciessau).

Chase Rose was the primary starting goalie for Bellarmine last year, but he was relegated to the bench to begin the Robert Morris game, with freshman Jordan Dondoyano getting the starting nod instead. They both saved 60% of shots faced, though Dondoyano saw three times as many in almost exactly three times as much playing time: so far, they’re very similar, and the defense plays similarly in front of them.

Kalish and Fahey have started all three games for the Titans, along with Aidan Christian. Fahey has caused two turnovers, while his linemates have caused three each. This isn’t a takeover-dependent backline… though it may be wise to take a few more risks with Rose saving just .395 of shots faced in the majority of game action. Dondoyano and sophomore Max Cartor have had much more success, albeit in more limited playing time. The goalie selection is definitely something to watch, because it’s a weak point.

This is a game where, if Detroit can dial in their shots (instead of many going off-cage or directly to the keeper), they have a chance to really put some balls past a group of goalies that is far from intimidating.

Special teams

Going back to the well one more time:

Senior Tyler Nangle took every draw against RMU, and finished at .455. Last year, he was a .382 faceoff man…

Bellarmine cleared very well against Robert Morris, and held the Colonials to .833. The Knights have had spurts over the years of being a pretty hard-riding team, so they may be trying to transition back to that.

Robert Morris had three man-up opportunities and failed to convert a single one… though this early in the year, it’s impossible to say if that’s a credit to the BU man-down defense or a strike against Bobby Mo.

Nangle has reverted to his previous form, and this should be a major opportunity for the Titans – particularly Ben Gjokaj – to grow a possession advantage and have a chance to steal this game, even if the offense and defense aren’t fully clicking. Of course, there’s a chance that the hard-riding Knights (opponents are down to .764 clearing on the year, an awful number) get that advantage right back against a UDM clear that is known for its own struggles.

Overall

This is not a good Bellarmine team, but unfortunately, it isn’t a particularly good Detroit team (yet), either. UDM finally got the monkey off its back in beating Jacksonville last mid-week… then destroyed any potential confidence that may have built by being blown off the field by a Robert Morris team that isn’t any good, either.

This could be one of the last legit chances for another victory before beginning conference play (Marquette Sunday, Air Force the following Saturday), so the Titans really could use a victory. Yes, getting enough MAAC wins to enter the conference tournament is the major objective for 2017 at this point, but there are plenty of reasons – confidence-building, putting together a least an unembarrassing final record – that it would still be real nice to win this one.

Predictions

 

Bellarmine seems to be a slightly better team than UDM overall, but the particular matchups between the Titans and Knights make this very interesting.

  • Gjokaj should have a day on faceoffs. He’s down to .439 on the year, but against a really bad faceoff team, he should be able to get back to his early-season form. That will be important not just for potentially winning this game, but building something for the remainder of the year.
  • Jason Weber will have a save percentage over .667. Other than Ciessau, Bellarmine is a team that gets a lot of its production from outside. That’s a pretty good fit for a team like Detroit, that has an outstanding keeper between the pipes and a relatively physical defense inside. Will they be able to shut down Ciessau? I wouldn’t count on it, but forcing him to feed, rather than score, would allow the team to put this game in Weber’s hands, to an extent.
  • One of the downsides there is that Weber is a liability in the clearing game sometimes (he’s not the only culprit there, obviously, but you know, verbal transitions and such), and Bellarmine is super-into the ride. Giving up free possessions seems almost like an inevitability, and like the Titans can win this one on faceoffs and between the pipes, they could very easily lose it in transition. I see a sub-.800 clearing day.
  • Will the offense have success? That’s the one aspect of the game that I’m not sure I’m ready to make a prediction about. There are ways to squint and look sideways to see how they could do very well, but then the little voice in the back of your head says “yeah but turnovers.” They’ll do well when not turning it over – as is often the case – but the amount they turn it over is capital-A capital-P A Problem.

UDM will scrap in this one, and it’s the type of game where too many of the predictions fall into the “guess” category, rather than things we can truly glean from past performance. If everything goes right, it could be not only a win, but a comfortable one. Unfortunately, the opposite is just as possible if the 50/50 stuff goes the other way. I still think Detroit finds a way to win, 10-9.

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Michigan 15, Detroit 10

Michigan Wolverines Detroit Titans Lacrosse

Photo by Tim Sullivan/GLS, awful lighting by Ultimate Soccer Arenas.

This was a game in three acts, one of which was even, one of which Michigan dominated, and the third of which the Maize and Blue let their opponent make things look pretty for the computers. In all, it ended up looking a little – but just a little – closer than the action dictated.

Tempo-Free

From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:

M/UDM 2017
Michigan Detroit
Faceoff Wins 20 Faceoff Wins 9
Clearing 15-16 Clearing 16-19
Possessions 39 Possessions 29
Goals 15 Goals 10
Offensive Efficiency .385 Offensive Efficiency .345

Michigan was the better team in possession, thanks to faceoff man Mike McDonnell and a little bit of trouble clearing for the Titans (one of those fails leading directly to a transition goal). They were also much better in efficiency, even though the numbers don’t bear out the difference between the teams thanks to the five-goal run to end the game.

Notes

 

The body of evidence is beginning to mount that Michigan’s Mike McDonnell is just a really good faceoff guy – a nice development after losing last year’s starter, Brad Lott. Sure, UDM hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory at the dot in every other game, but chasing Ben Gjokaj (who I’ve noted in the past I have a ton of respect for as a player) indicates that against all but the best specialists/units Michigan will face, McDonnell is going to be an asset. He helped the Wolverines maintain a (needed) possession advantage in the first half until they got the offense humming, and from that it was all good.

Speaking of that offense, I hesitate to dismiss the Titans’ defensive effort, but I felt – and John Paul agrees – that the Maize and Blue had tons of first-half openings that they simply gave away due to sloppiness.

“It was us not playing our game,” Paul said. “Offensively, we were just trying to make things happen instead of playing our offense. We could see pretty early that if we were patient and moving the ball, we were going to get opportunities. The second half when we were able to grind that out was about our offense starting to settle down and play smarter.”

U-M shots were saved six times – a few on shots that the coaches would probably rather not have seen taken – and a couple of their six first-half turnovers were also forced plays that a team more settled in doesn’t make. They settle in for the second half, and the Titans couldn’t respond blow-for-blow, and there was your game.

The first half for UDM was impressive, though, since I think this Michigan team will end up being pretty good and the Titans… have struggled so far. They were able to overcome their own bugaboo (eight turnovers, including two failed clears) to launch 19 shots, 11 of them on goal, and five finding twine. They’ll have to manufacture a bit of offense – and battle through their own errors – a bit this year, especially until Mark Anstead is able to return from illness.

As for individual offensive performances, this turned into the Ian King and Brent Noseworthy show for Michigan (get used to it this year), with four goals a pop plus King assisting on one of Noseworthy’s three-straight in the fourth quarter – capping the 11-goal U-M run that decided the game. Always gotta show love to the poles, as well, with Dickson Smith riding UDM into a turnover and cashing in himself, and Nick DeCaprio assisting one of King’s tallies after a caused turnover himself.

Detroit was led by Matthew VanGalen’s goal and three assists, with Seth Mendell and Sean Birney contributing a pair of goals and pair of assists, respectively. With the good comes the bad, as we see with UDM all too often though: the duo combined for five of the Titans’ 15 turnovers, as well.

We tend to see this game be a little sloppy/chippy/frantic/whatever, and seven caused turnovers for Detroit and eight for Michigan is well above either team’s normal production in that department, though in a faster-paced game maybe not unexpected (but then the turnovers result in more possessions and a faster pace, etc. etc., and INCEPTION).

Both goalies had good performances, with Jason Weber’s .400 save percentage sort of misleading because he was hung out to dry a few times, especially during the big Michigan run. Tommy Heidt’s .600 was very good – though we see too much of UDM shooters lobbing balls toward a goalie’s chest to read too much into it – and Michigan’s mediocre save percentage of .500 was way more attributable to backup Gunner Garn allowing four goals and saving just one shot when the Titans made things look pretty in the end.

Elsewhere

Michigan recap. Photo gallery (unfortunately mine all turned out horrible due to the lighting). Box. Detroit recap. McEwen recap for IL. It’s a goal:

Up Next

Hey, it’s a lot of games to recap (three for each team since this one), so we’ll get right into that, yeah?

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Michigan preview: Mercer

This will rely heavily of Mercer I wrote just a couple weeks ago, with the added knowledge that the Bears are about even quality-wise with Detroit.

Mercer

Mercer Bears Lacrosse

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March 2, 2017, 7 p.m. EST
Macon, Ga.
Live stats. Live video (ESPN3).
Detroit previewMercer preview.
@UMichLacrosse. @MercerLacrosse. @UofMLaxManagers.

The Bears

Mercer is 1-2 on the year, with the lone victory, yes, coming over Detroit. They lost a nail-biter to Vermont and were blown out by UMBC – and neither of those teams was particularly impressive last year (or so far in 2017).

This probably isn’t a good team – in fact, it’s likely a rather bad one – and with the stage Michigan’s program is reaching, this shouldn’t be competitive. Will the Michigan we’ve seen too much in the past couple years – the one that plays down to inferior competition – show up to spoil it?

Offense

From the UDM edition of this preview:

Last year’s leading scorer, Chris Baxa, has moved on, along with his 22 goals and just two assists – he was your finishing attackman. He missed two games, which allowed now-sophomore middie Lucas Wittenberg to draw even with him thanks to 12 goals and 12 assists. Junior Matt Quinn is another key midfielder, and more like Baxa, with a scoreline heavily tilted toward shooting, not feeding. Senior attack Chris Rahill had a scoreline that was tilted toward scoring (the Bears as a team assisted on barely more than a third of their goals last year – not a sharing-type squad), as well.

Thus far it has been three not mentioned in that post – the starting attack line of sophomores attack Jake Nelson and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z?) and senior Kevin Yoggy – who have carried the load offensively. Wittenberg and Quinn are right behind them, but this is an attack-driven offense, even if that status meant relying on unproven players early in the year.

Defense

Again, from the UDM preview:

Senior Colin Massa is the leader of the defense. He led close D in takeaways (12) and was close in ground balls (16) last year.  Junior Dustin White should start, as well. Mercer has to replace Clay Rivers on the close D, given that he got the lion’s share of minutes, despite only one start in 2016.

Goalie Mike Nugent played essentially every meaningful minute last spring, and had a decent save percentage of .526 despite playing behind a pretty porous defense. Tyler Boardo got 5:26 of backup minutes, which is totally not enough time to read into his .333 save percentage. Transfer Bradley Hodoval played the Vermont game, but the redshirt sophomore saved only .438 of shots faced: we’ll see how good he is against the Titans.

Massa has had shockingly little production so far in 2017: two caused turnovers and zero ground balls. He also committed a penalty in each of the first two games, so it’s not like he hasn’t been on the field, just ineffective. White has been out with injury, resulting in juniors Jake Saad and Willy Deines and freshman Michael O’Brien into bigger roles. This is a caused-turnover happy D, led by the SSDMs, particularly Ensor Walker.

Hodoval has gotten the vast majority of meaningful time between the pipes so far, and is saving a respectable .521 – albeit against one very good shooting squad (Vermont) and two terrible ones.

Special Teams

Only two players have taken a faceoff, and they’re both doing very well so far: Brennen Kiel is nominally the lead guy with a handful more attempts and a winning percentage of .615 to Will Beecham’s “only” .576. This should still be a decent matchup for Michigan.

Mercer has been giving up about three EMO opportunities per game and allowing opponents to convert half of them (that’s bad). Meanwhile, their EMO is right around middle-of-the-pack nationally.

Overall

Nothing surprising here: this is a must-win game if Michigan is to be the team it wants to be this year. The Wolverines should be able to take care of mid-major squads, and so far in 2017, they have with ease. It’s when the schedule gets tough that they’re likely to struggle (though hopefully not as bad as against Notre Dame). Building chemistry, confidence, and yes, a bit of a win percentage cushion before they get to the tough ones is what’s at stake here.

Predictions

Not going to spend too much time on this section because I’ve been derelict in my duties as a blogger and just want to get this up before the game starts.

Michigan takes a relatively easy (though tougher than it should be) game, 17-7.

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