By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
Coming into the season, head coach Jason Watts and his players knew they had a daunting task in front of them.
It was said by the players and coaches that this season, the University of Michigan-Dearborn lacrosse team would be playing the toughest schedule in program history.
And it’s starting to show.
After winning two of their first three games, the Wolverines have lost the last four, including a 14-3 beat down by Grove City, a national powerhouse, and a heart-breaking double overtime defeat to Aquinas.
UM-Dearborn has only four games to go, meaning the best it can finish is with a 6-5 record, which would be an accomplishment when looking at the difficulty of its schedule.
But there’s just one problem when you see their four remaining opponents: all of the teams are ranked nationally. One of those games comes against the No. 1 team in the country, Dayton.
This is a tough task for a team led by youth. Brendan Salva, a freshman, leads the team in goals with 17. Out of the next six players on the list, only one is above sophomore status.
That’s good news for the future, but for right now the struggles will likely continue.
Currently, the Wolverines are in a much needed layoff – they are in the midst of a 13 day break between games, giving them plenty of time to rest and regroup.
But the players know it will only get harder from here.
“We know that we got a tough schedule and it was designed that way, that it got progressively harder,” Hannibal Roda said after the Aquinas loss. “Our team has yet to really string together a full game. We’re looking forward to the next couple games. I thoroughly believe we can play with anybody in this conference.”
While the belief is still there, the results aren’t .
The Wolverines have played two games against ranked teams so far this season in No. 19 Indiana Tech and No. 7 Grove City. UM-Dearborn was outscored 33-13 in those two games alone.
The four games remaining against ranked teams will be a barometer for next season. It will show just how far back the Wolverines are from the front of the pack.
The Wolverines will need to get going quickly after the break if they want to salvage their season as the schedule is evaporating towards the end.
The talent is there for UM-Dearborn to knock off some of the big dogs, but the Wolverines are going to have to put it all together.
It’s going to take a full four-quarter effort to beat the teams at the bottom of the schedule and be nearly mistake-free in the process. Penalties and bad clearing have hampered the Wolverines at times throughout the season.
But if the Wolverines haven’t strung together their best game yet, now is the perfect time.