Is Michigan A Sleeping Giant?

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Photo Courtesy of Michigan Athletics                                                                                                              

Since the program’s move from club to DI in 2012, Michigan lacrosse has been anything but special. The Wolverines have only had two winning seasons and won three conference games in the Big Ten. Michigan has been at the bottom when it comes to DI programs in the midwest, getting surpassed by newer programs such as Marquette and seemingly falling further behind established ones like Ohio State and Notre Dame. 

While the past hasn’t been very pleasant to Michigan, the future is very bright in Ann Arbor. The athletic department has made a commitment to lacrosse and that could all be paying off as soon as the 2020 season. Entering their third season under head coach Kevin Conry and year two of the $168M dollar Michigan Lacrosse Stadium things look very bright for the Wolverines. 

Coming off a 2019 season that saw Michigan finish 4-9 overall, the Wolverines look to finally start living up to the hype that has been building around this program for the past few seasons.

Michigan brings in three Under Armour All-American’s in attackman Josh Zawada, midfielder Jake Bonomi, and defenseman Ryan Schreiber. The addition of those three and others is huge for the Wolverines as they are expected to make impacts as freshman at their respective positions, and help lead this program into the next decade with much hope. 

In addition to some of the highly touted freshman that Michigan brings in, they also have some great talent coming back this season on both ends of the field. On the offensive end, the Wolverines return their top three scorers in attackmen Alex Buckanavage, Kevin Mack, and midfielder Avery Myers. Rising sophomore attackman Bryce Clay, Michigan’s fifth leading scorers, is another big returner, as well. 

Last season, Michigan’s offense was the 37th scoring offense in DI and fifth in the Big Ten. While that is certainly nothing special, their 11.38 goals per game average was a slight improvement from 10.14 in 2018. Even with the departures of Decker Curran and Brent Noseworthy the Wolverines offense is expected to continue their upward trend, especially with the wealth of young talent in Ann Arbor. 

While Michigan’s offensive progression is certainly a positive, they may have some growing pains on the defensive end with the loss of goalie Tommy Heidt who graduated as the Wolverines second all-time leader in career saves with 344. 

However, Michigan does return sophomore Andrew Darby and senior Finn Goonan on defense which should help keep some cohesion, especially if Ryan Schreiber is thrust into a starting spot day one, which is highly likely. 

Even with some questions and more development needed on the defensive end of the field, the energy that Coach Conry has brought to Ann Arbor mixed with facility upgrades and recruiting success is enough for many to crown Michigan one of the next great programs to rise up out of the Big Ten. Thus far, nothing has been built overnight and the Wolverines still have some proving to do, but above all Michigan lacrosse is on the rise, without a doubt. 

 

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