Michigan’s defense proved to be no match for Brown’s attack, as the Wolverines fell 22-12 to the Bears at Oosterbaan Sunday afternoon. Two different Brown attackmen scored 4 goals each, and Bears frosh Dylan Molloy matched them with 8 goals of his own (?!) in addition to 5 assists for a jaw-dropping 13-point afternoon.
Brown jumped out a 5-0 lead before Michigan scored twice in the last two minutes to end the first quarter at 5-2. Michigan scored next 3 minutes into the second to cut the lead to 2, which turned out to be as close as we would get the rest of the game. Another run of 5 unanswered from the Bears put the score at 10-3 before the teams traded goals to end the half 12-5 Brown.
Coach John Paul and his staff got the team's attention in the locker room, as Michigan came out strong to start the second half, scoring 3 straight goals to cut the lead to 4 and breathing some life into the team. Brown stretched the lead to six before the Wolverines surged again to cut the lead back to 4 with just 38 second left in the third. That would prove to be the last hurrah for Michigan’s comeback. Brown’s goal with 8 seconds left in the quarter seemingly broke Michigan’s spirit, if not our momentum, and was just the first goal of yet another run of 5 unanswered goals for the Bears that extended the lead to 20-11 only 4 minutes into the fourth quarter. The game ended with a whimper to the final score of 22-12.
The game was going to be the first of the season in Michigan Stadium before cold and snow forced the game indoors, so there was no video or audio for the game making post mortem analysis difficult from just the Gametracker feed. But when the other team’s attack unit has 16 goals and 6 assists, one doesn’t have to dig into the box score too deeply to pin a reason on the loss. Our close D simply couldn’t hang with them, and given how badly our defense was sliding in our last game (televised loss to Jacksonville) I would imagine that was again the reason behind the ridiculous 22 points from their starting attack.
Another stat that jumps out is save percentage. After missing last season to injury, Gerald Logan has been spotty in his return to the cage, and today making only 12 saves with 22 goals against (35% awful). (Brown’s goalie made 14 saves with 12 goals against, 54% respectable). Given how badly it seemed the defense played in front of Logan (see last paragraph) and the number of Brown attack assists, I can only imagine he was facing a lot of point blank shots, and probably more than a few backdoor layups that he could only watch from the other side of the goal. It’s hard to fault a goalie for giving up those sorts of goals. If Michigan hopes to be competitive the rest of the season they will need Logan to return to his freshman form when he was #2 in the NCAA in total saves (211) and #13 in save percentage (56.3 percent).
Michigan was without its top scorer this season, as Ian King didn’t play in the game (undisclosed injury?), which may have kept the game closer but since King doesn’t play much defense I think a best outcome would have been a 20-16 loss.
After a promising start to the season, the Wolverine’s now stand at 3-3 after dropping two straight. Brown is now 4-0 on the year, tied for first in a strong Ivy League, and looking to move up into the teens in the rankings after today’s impressive stomping.
I stated previously I thought the Brown game would be a bellwether for Michigan’s chances of finishing above .500 for the first time this season. Since I first wrote that Michigan has lost 2 games that I thought we would win one of if not both. Our offense seems to be doing okay, but looking ahead I just don’t see 4 more wins on the schedule (to get to 7 wins and over .500) unless the team can find something on defense to keep the games close. After a month of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, cold reality is setting in as I try not to think about ending the season with only our current 3 wins.
Up next, our boys head to Philadelphia to face Saint Joseph’s Saturday 3/14. The Hawks are 2-3 this year, but with two one-goal games could easily be 3-2, or 1-4. A strong effort and a win could turn our season around. That’s why they play the game.