By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
This season, the University of Michigan-Dearborn lacrosse team is playing their toughest schedule they’ve ever faced in program history.
And on Friday, reality set in for how difficult of a challenge that might be.
The Wolverines were walloped by No. 18 Indiana Tech 19-10. It was the Warriors’ (1-0) first game of the season, but it was the home team that had the biggest struggle.
Penalties were the problem that gave UM-Dearborn (2-3) the biggest fits of the evening. The Warriors capitalized eight times on the man-up advantage as the Wolverines had nearly a quarter’s worth of penalty minutes.
“They called a tight game today and we needed to adjust our style of play to how the refs are gonna call it, and we didn’t do that. We let it get in our heads,” head coach Jason Watts said. “We had 12 minutes in penalties to Indiana Tech’s three minutes. Anytime we have that many man-down situations, it’s not going to go well.”
The Warriors got off to a fast start scoring five of the game’s first six goals. Jace Childs picked up two of the goals with a man-up advantage.
Brendan Salva would score with just 10 seconds left in the first quarter to help the Wolverines keep up with Indiana Tech.
Just over two minutes into the second quarter, Salva got the Wolverines another goal closer after a good clearing play by Jacob Hodges that led to Anders Rasmussen finding Salva near the net.
After the Warriors scored four straight goals to make it 9-3, the Wolverines offense had a spark of its own scoring four goals in the last four minutes of the half.
Salva scored two more, both coming on a man-up advantage. And Hannibal Roda found the back of the net twice as well.
But mid-way through the third quarter, the game completely changed.
With an 11-9 lead, Indiana Tech scored three straight goals each with a man-up advantage. Then they tacked on one more goal with just five seconds left in the quarter.
Childs led all scorers on the night with seven goals, including four while his team was a man-up.
Salva tied his season high, scoring five goals, and Roda finished with three scores. Matthew Rosteck and Mitchell Stapleton contributed with a goal each.
As UM-Dearborn made this interesting right before halftime, the third quarter was going to be critical as each team looked to take the momentum early in the second half. Watts admitted that the third quarter was, without a doubt, a difference maker.
“We had five third-quarter penalties and we only scored two goals there. (when) we’re on defense that much, you’re not going to score. It just didn’t play in our favor tonight,” Watts said. “We have to be able to adjust for how the refs are calling the game.”
The Wolverines had to adjust to a new look in-net as Andrew Popp started at goalie. He made 23 saves during the game, facing a barrage of shots from the Warriors offense.
Watts said that he was unsure of what to expect out of Popp’s transition from defenseman to goalie, but he that he held his own in the first showing.
“Didn’t know what to expect, but for as many shots as he saw tonight, he played extremely well; his clearing was there. [He was] pretty impressive tonight,” Watts said.
UM-Dearborn will look to rebound on March 18 when they host fifth-ranked Grove City at the Detroit Country Day Fieldhouse.