As noted in Friday's preview, Michigan and Michigan State have closed the MCLA regular season at a neutral site in each of the last four years, as part of the Great Lakes LAcrosse Classic. This year's game, at East Grand Rapids High School, was more of a nailbiter than expected, but the close game provided fans the opportunity to see some high-level lacrosse.
The game got off to a quick start for the Spartans, as they built up a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game. Michigan would eventually respond on two transition goals, the first coming on a successful ride, as Zach Mueller stole the ball and fed Trevor Yealy, followed by a Jordan Kirshner strike. After MSU took the 3-2 lead, Svet Tintchev (pictured below, from mgobluelacrosse.com) scored on a feed from Anthony Hrusovsky to tie it up going into the second.
The teams would continue to trade goals in the second quarter, but once Michigan State took a 5-4 lead, Michigan went on a 5-0 run, taking the 9-5 lead into halftime. Michigan's goals in the frame would come from Yealy (three times), Josh Ein (twice), and David Rogers.
The game would tighten up in the second half, as both teams upped the physical play leading to several big hits. Jordan Kirshner scored the first tally after the break:
Michigan opened the scoring in the second half with a nifty play as Kirshner teased his defender into thinking he was going to sub at midfield, before darting back into the box alone, taking a feed from Ein on the right GLE and firing high for the 10-5 lead moments into the third.
Michigan State put in the only other goals of the quarter, for a 10-7 score going into the final frame.
Michigan managed to kill off a 2-man-down situation early in the fourth, but another penalty shortly thereafter gave Michigan State the opportunity to get within two goals - and they capitalized. Michigan gained a little separation on a David Rogers tally with just over four minutes left in the game, and the Wolverines managed to keep possession for almost the entire remainder of the game for the 11-8 win.
Official Site Recap (source of quote and photo above)
Notes and Analysis
Michigan State's goalie stood on his head through much of the first quarter, and again in the fourth. During those times, Michigan's shots weren't always making him work hard for the save, however. Once shot quality improved (and frequency increased), the Wolverines put several shots past him.
David Reinhard was his typical solid self, winning 68% of his faceoffs, though even he had a slump when Michigan was struggling early in the game. Goalie Mark Stone had a solid outing, keeping Michigan State from scoring one several good opportunities. However, a couple balls that could have been saved got past him.
Senior Kevin Zorovich went out late in the first half with a knee or lower leg injury. He returned from the locker room after the rest of his teammates following halftime, and though he was still wearing his full gear (sans helmet), never returned to the game.
This is a much better MIchigan State than we;ve seen for the past few years. It will be a shame if this loss (combined with some unfavorable results elsewhere) keeps them out of the MCLA Tournament.
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and want to catch the game on TV, it will air on local access WKTV on Saturday at 5PM. The station will also have DVDs of the event available for purchase at a later date.
The CCLA Conference Tournament goes down at Saline High School this weekend. Michigan has a first-round bye, and will take on its first opponent Saturday at 4PM. The Wolverines and Spartans are favored to rematch in the Conference Championship Game.
Next up on the blog will be a round of MCLA Bracketology and a CCLA Tournament Preview.