Mitch Stapleton. (Photo courtesy of UM-Dearborn lacrosse)
Mitch Stapleton. (Photo courtesy of UM-Dearborn lacrosse)
Mitch Stapleton. (Photo courtesy of UM-Dearborn lacrosse)

By JERAMY STOVER, SPORTS EDITOR

Sophomore midfielder Mitchell Stapleton was given the responsibility of helping lead his team this season when he was chosen as one of the captains.

And while a captain is a leader both on and off the field, Stapleton excelled at the on-field part in his latest game.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn lacrosse team pulled off a comeback win against Winona State Friday, defeating the Warriors 11-9.

Stapleton was the catalyst for the Wolverines, ending up on the score sheet for seven of his team’s 11 goals – scoring five and assisting on two others.

“Changing planes, hitting the net — that was the key” Stapleton said, of what led to his successful night. “I got good feeds too from my teammates.”

The Warriors (1-2) led 7-5 late in the third quarter when the Wolverines (2-1) would start to make their run. It began when freshman Jake Harrison scored his second goal of the season to bring his team to within one.

While Harrison’s goal sparked the entire team, it was Stapleton who received the biggest boost.

With just 20 seconds left in the third quarter, Stapleton ripped a shot past the Warriors netminder to tie the game. Then just under three minutes into the fourth quarter, Stapleton would score again — receiving a pass near the front of the goal from Matthew Rosteck, who was set up behind the net.

After a Brendan Salva score, Stapleton would find the back of the net again to put the Wolverines up by three with 9:14 left in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors would score twice before the game was over but it wouldn’t be enough to catch UM-Dearborn.

Assistant coach Mike Wagner admitted it took a few for his team to find its stride.

“It took us a long time to get going… it took us a little while to figure out the goalie, we just had to settle down,” Wagner said. “But second half we were a lot more discipline and we took advantage of some penalties.

Head coach Jason Watts explained that the offense struggled early on. But as the game played on the offense began to find its rhythm.

“We had trouble getting into our sets early, we tried to do a little too much and we got away from our offense in the first half, and we kept emphasizing that the rest of the game,” Watts said. “In the second half, especially the fourth quarter our guys started actually working our offense and getting looks that we knew were there and we started executing and we started pulling away.”

Watts’ isn’t kidding about the offense. After being outscored 6-4 in the first half, the Wolverines managed to win the battle in the second half outpacing the Warriors 7-3.

Harrison and Salva each tallied two goals during the game. Hannibal Roda contributed with a goal and three assists. Freshman Gerald Belanger recorded his first career goal scoring in the third quarter.

Stapleton’s five goal game was a career high for him. Both coaches agreed that he was able to figure out the Warriors goalie and was able to use that to his advantage.

“He’s an emotional guy he plays with a lot of emotion. He got on a hot streak he had the hot hand and he figured out the goalie and that was a big part of being able to put him in the right positions to be successful,” Wagner said. “Once you figure out the goalie it’s just a matter of executing and he did it. He kept his composure he kept discipline and he was on a hot streak so give him the ball.”

“He had the match-up  a lot of the time so we were putting him in that position as many times as possible like (Wagner) said to get him the ball and give him the opportunity to get a shot on net,” Watts said.

Senior goalie David Stephanoff made 12 saves, including a couple critical ones late in the game to keep his team in front.

UM-Dearborn will travel to Tennessee for a pair of games over spring break. They take on Tennessee Wesleyan on Mar. 4 and then Savannah College of Art and Design on Mar. 5.