Michigan Lacrosse Preview 2011

Submitted by Tim on January 29th, 2011 at 9:52 AM

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Michigan Men's Lacrosse has captured the last thee national titles in the MCLA, the highest level of club lacrosse in the country. They begin their quest to make it an unprecedented 4-peat tonight at 6:00PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, with a pre-season scrimmage against Division 1 squad Bellarmine.

Let's look at the personnel.

Goal

Key Returners: Mark Stone (HM AA, 2nd Conf), Andrew Fowler

Losses: Conor McGee

Mark Stone and Andrew Folwer split time in net almost equally in 2009, and though Fowler missed some time with a leg injury, he got the start in the MCLA Championship game. Last year, however, Stone took over as the #1 keeper, playing almost twice as many minutes as Fowler, and posting a slightly better save percentage (.609 to .595) overall.

This season, look for Stone to be the starter again - and increased performance out of both main keepers in their senior years. Sophomore Cy Abdelnour is the third option, as Conor McGee has transferred to UVa.

Defense

Key Returners: Harry Freid (1st AA, 1st Conf), Austin Swaney (2nd Conf), Justin Burgin (3rd Conf).

Losses: Zach Mueller, Theo Lederfine Paskal, Bob Diehl.

Newcomers: Dakota Sherman, Pat Stansik, Jake Dockser.

Harry Freid enters his senior year after back-to-back First-Team All-American seasons, and he's been named to the MCLA's all-decade team. He's the key player in the Wolverines' defensive corps, and will probably spend next spring playing a year of Division-1 lacrosse.

Austin Swaney is the team's #2 defenseman. His athleticism and instincts are the keys to his success. The starting unit could be rounded out by either Pat Stansik or Justin Burgin, though Burgin is coming off an injury. Stansik is a big, intimidating defenseman, and Burgin excels going up the field in transition.

JD Johnson, Dakota Sherman, and Paul Hegeman should also get some good playing time in a very deep defensive unit.

Midfield

Key Returners: Matt Asperheim (3rd AA, 1st Conf).

Losses: Anthony Hrusovsky (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Jordan Kirshner (3rd AA, 1st Conf), David Rogers (2nd Conf), Svet Tintchev (2nd Conf), Michael Bartomioli (HM Conf), Jamison Goldberg (HM Conf).

The midfield is the hardest-hit unit by graduation, with only senior Long-Stick Matt Asperheim returning among players who received All-American or All-Conference honors. Asperheim is an important part of the team's defensive play, but also has great stick skills, and can score.

The other starters of Michigan's defensive midfield have graduated, so Jordan Kirshner and Michael Bartomioli (now an assistant at Michigan's Feb. 19th opponent Florida) will need to be replaced. Sean Sutton should be one of the starters, but the other is still up in the air, with Rob Healy a strong contender.

Michigan also lost a lot from their offensive midfield units, with #5 scorer Svet Tintchev out the door, along with #7 Anthony Hrusovsky, #9 Jamison Goldberg, and #10 David Rogers. Young players such as Joey Hrusovsky will have to step up, and don't be surprised if the Wolverines have more 2-way midfielders this season.

Faceoff

Key Returners: Edward Ernst, Harrison Silver

Losses: David Reinhard (1st AA, 1st Conf)

David Reinhard was a huge part of Michigan's success over the past two years, as the diminutive faceoff specialist won nearly 70% of his draws, helping the Wolverines dominate possession against all competition. With Reinhard out the door, it's up to junior Edward Ernst to carry the torch at the faceoff X.

Ernst actually performed better overall (80.6 win percentage), though most of his attempts came late in games, and especially against lesser competition. He'll have to step up his game for Michigan to control possession like they have the past few years.

Attack

Key Returners: Trevor Yealy (1st AA, 1st Conf), Thomas Paras (2nd Conf)

Losses: Kevin Zorovich (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Josh Ein (HM Conf), Clark McIntyre (HM Conf)

Though Michigan's #3, 4, and 6 scorers from last year have graduated, the Michigan offense still has its most important piece in Trevor Yealy. The senior captain has been a deadly finisher on the crease the last three years, with a mind-numbing 77 goals last year alone - compared to a grand total of 2 assists. This year, he should play a more versatile role, including out on the wing. Even if his scoring production drops, it will be for the betterment of the team on the whole.

Michigan's #2 scorer from last year, Thomas Paras, should be improved in his second year in the program. Since the Wolverines lost two lefties (Zorovich and Ein), the addition of St. John's transfer Ryan-Dutton O'Hara (HT: UMGoBlog) is important. He's a big attackman with good finishing ability.

The Wolverines may have scoring spread more throughout the roster, so keep an eye on Chad Carroll, who's new to the team after not playing lacrosse the last couple years, and freshman jitterbug Jeff Chu.

The Schedule

Last year's home lineup consisted of a meager four games, but that's paid forward to 2011, with 8 home contests, including 2010 tournament teams Florida, BYU, Boston College, Colorado State, and Arizona State (last year's runner-up). I break it down into about 4 parts:

Pre-Season

Bellarmine
Jan. 29, 6:00PM
NCAA Division-1, 9-6 in 2010

Wittenberg
Feb. 4, 7:30PM
NCAA Division-3, 10-5 in 2010

Kenyon
Feb 12, 7:00PM
NCAA Division-3, 6-8 in 2010

Early Season/Road Trip

Florida
Feb. 19, 7:00PM
SELC, 12-4 in 2010 (First Round MCLA Tournament)

Oregon
Feb. 25, 6:00PM. Los Angeles, CA
PNCLL, 10-5 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)

@ Loyola Marymount
Mar. 2, 3:00 PM. Los Angeles, CA
SLC, 13-5 in 2010

@ Chapman
Mar. 5, 1:00 PM. Orange, CA
SLC, 16-3 in 2010 (MCLA Final Four - Lost to Michigan)

@ Ohio
Mar. 12, 2:00 PM. Athens, OH
CCLA East, 11-2 NCLL in 2010

The Home Stand

BYU
Mar. 18, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 12-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round - Lost to Michigan)

Pittsburgh
Mar. 19, 7:00 PM
CCLA East, 5-10 in 2010

Boston College
Mar. 25, 7:00 PM
PCLL, 11-3 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)

UC-Santa Barbara
Mar. 26, 7:00 PM
SLC, 10-6 in 2010

Colorado State
Apr. 1, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 17-2 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round)

Arizona State
Apr. 2, 7:00 PM
SLC, 16-4 in 2010 (MCLA Runners-up - Lost to Michigan)

Missouri
Apr. 9, 7:00 PM
GRLC, 8-7 in 2010

The Home Stretch

Michigan State
Apr. 16, 7:00 PM. Birmingham Seaholm HS
CCLA, 10-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)

@ Toledo
Apr. 23, 7:00 PM. Toledo, OH
CCLA East, 8-6 NCLL in 2010

CCLA Tournament
May 5-7 Saline, MI

MCLA Tournament
May 17-21 Denver, CO

The Summary

Michigan's recipe for success over the past few years has been to dominate possession, owning the faceoff X and riding opponents into turnovers to hold on to the ball much more than the opposition.

Michigan's biggest question mark this year, then, will be on faceoffs. In the one-on-one battle at midfield, they need to have Edward Ernst step up to continue the formula that's brought them such success. Ernst has David Reinhard, last year's All-American specialist, teaching and competing with him in practice (just like Reinhard had with Brekan Kohlitz a couple years back), so he should be able to step up.

Other than faceoff, Michigan's top-end talent and depth are both exceptional. Plugging Division-1 transfers into holes created by graduation is not a luxury all club programs have, and the Wolverines have some of the best coaching in the MCLA as well.

It's likely, unless there are some early-season stumbles, that Michigan will be favored - and often heavily so - in every game this year. They've earned it by losing only one game in the past 3 years, and refusing to ever rebuild, but always reload. It doesn't hurt to have the runaway favorites for MCLA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year on your squad, either.

If you're looking to make it out to just a couple games, I recommend tonight's scrimmage, as Bellarmine is a D-1 opponent, and the back-to-back home games against Colorado State and Arizona State.

Comments

Tim

January 29th, 2011 at 12:03 PM ^

They beat the tar out of Bellarmine last year (14-8 final, but led 11-3 in the third quarter and emptied the bench in the fourth). They typically do very well in their pre-season scrimmages.

In their fall ball scrimmage against D3 Denison (10-4 last year, #15 in LaxPower's D3 power rankings), they lost 7-15. 

bronxblue

January 29th, 2011 at 11:35 AM ^

Nice breakdown Tim.  

Is there any truth to the rumors I heard that UM might be making the jump to varsity sport?  Also, how do they typically do against D1 and D2 teams?  It seems like they aren't going to be as good as teams like Syracuse, Maryland, or JHU, but could they be a mid-level D1 team?  

laxalum

January 29th, 2011 at 11:38 AM ^

Also, scrimmage tonight is against Bellarmine.  You have it as Wittenberg in the last paragraph.  And Healy plays midfield, not defense.  (sorry to nitpick)

Thanks for the continued lacrosse coverage Tim!

To answer the one comment about success rate against varsity opposition, Michigan typically fares very well, depending on the time of year and caliber of competition.  They almost always lose varsity scrimmages in the fall, but they almost always win them in the spring preseason.  Last year they beat Bellarmine (bottom 25% of D1) pretty handily, and also beat Wittenberg and Ohio Wesleyan (both middle of the pack NCAA D3).  But keep in mind that these are just scrimmages, so although they are played like real games both teams are approaching these more as a way to prepare for the season rather than as a full game.  They rest injured players who might have played in a real game.  They don't scout or gameplan.  They don't have all of their systems in.  They go deeper in the roster to evaluate players.

As Coach Paul always says, it doesn't really matter how they do in varsity scrimmages.  Their task is to be successful in the MCLA, which they are doing better than anyone else ever has.  When Brandon makes varsity lacrosse a reality, then the program will start to be judged on NCAA results, and I have no doubt that if the right support is provided (facilities, staff, scholarships) Michigan could develop into an NCAA powerhouse in a few years.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

January 29th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

Like Yesman said, definitely not this year as the G-man (Adam Ghitelman) has that job on lockdown and Rob Fortunato is the entrenched backup.  I don't see McGee coming on this year except in one game: we typically use three or four goalies in the VMI game because that one's always out of hand at halftime.  Assuming that goes as usual, McGee will probably get a few minutes.

Next year, Fortunato probably has the upper hand for the starting job, but I have no idea how McGee will stack up against Fortunato or this year's incoming freshman, Austin Geisler.  Best guess is that McGee remains a career backup, but that's usually good for at least plenty of mop-up time in the tomato-can games.

TheRealHag

January 29th, 2011 at 1:25 PM ^

From what I have been told from high school coaches on the East Coast, if Michigan goes NCAA in 2012, the recruits shall come.  We won't have a problem competing, and let's not forget our neighbor, Notre Dame, doesn't have an issue with making it to the finals at all!  Therefore, I have already talked to many individuals who have said they would opt to come to Michigan, if they went NCAA in 2012, because it's a new program, due to the schools nature of ensuring the facilities and players are taken care of.  Moreover, let's not forget that Michigan beat Bellarmine last year, and Ohio State, who was ranked relatively higher last year, lost to Bellarmine, who was a bottom feeder! 

As far is Denison this year, I play lacrosse, and have for some time, so I have quite a bit of connections, and can say Denison isn't a slouch by any means.  I think, as anyone would say, Michigan was very out of sorts in that game, and after all the training thay have gone through in the past weeks, including the box lax style training, and tempo cardio training, they shouldn't have the issues they had in fall ball.  Michigan wouldn't be as good as a Syracuse, Duke, Maryland, or Virginia at first, but give them a few years, and I promise they would get the recruits to ensure the school competes at the highest level.  We have two schools, Brother Rice and Detroit Catholic Central, that produce quite a few DI recruits, especially Brother Rice, and the draw Michigan would have to staying in state for those recruits would be huge.  Ohio, illinois, St. Louis (CBC, DeSmet, Ladue, Eureka, SLUH), Rockhurst (KC), PA, NY, NJ and the entire East Coast is a hot bed for lacrosse recruits that is close to us that JP has already recruited.  Not to mention the recruits he has pulled from the South, West, and and remaining areas.  Bottom line, Michigan will be just fine in the NCAA. 

As far as McGee, I don't see him playing at Virginia.

James Burrill Angell

January 29th, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

I assume Lacrosse is like most other sports in that the NCAA doesn't allow schools to give out scholarships to all the players (or at least a majority of the ones that play) as they do in basketball, football and ice hockey. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that its like baseball or soccer where they get X number of scholarships and usually the coaches will break them up over multiple players so that someone getting offered a full scholarship is rare.

 

Does anyone know what the number of scholarships they allow for men's lacrosse is?

James Burrill Angell

January 29th, 2011 at 1:44 PM ^

Tim, you mentioned the one defensive player (Harry Fried) would play for us this year then do a year of D-1. What did you mean by that? Is that to infer he would make the squad if Michigan was moved to Varsity/Division 1 or do you mean he'd play a year D1 at another school after he graduated?? 

Tim

January 29th, 2011 at 1:59 PM ^

Should Michigan go D-1, it won't be until the 2013 season. After graduating from Michigan this spring, he's likely to transfer to a school that already has a D-1 lacrosse program, and play his final season of NCAA eligibility there.

Since Michigan is a club program, he'd be able to transfer and play immediately for his "redshirt senior" year.

Old Blue

January 29th, 2011 at 3:31 PM ^

...but I can't make it in.

I've gotten hooked on lacrosse since my sons started playing in youth leagues (never really exposed to it growing up in the midwest), and I get to Michigan games whenever I can.  It's a great sport, and we have a really good team.  Oosterbaan is an interesting place to watch a game.  You are right on top of the action (imagine watching hockey from right next to the ice, but with no boards!).  And there's a very social atmosphere after the games.  My sons have loved being able to meet the players and the coaches after ghe games and load up on autographs.

As much as I like watching the current Wolverines, I'm looking forward to the rumored D1 team that is coming.  I think lacrosse can be a high level varsity sport at Michigan, both in terms of success and fan interest.

laxalum

January 29th, 2011 at 3:50 PM ^

Just got a tweet that a bunch of guys, including Freid, aren't dressing tonight.  I'm assuming they are all nursing injuries.  Hopefully Freid is back soon.  He is a huge part of what they do defensively and in their ride, and he's physical as hell.

As for McGee, I doubt very much he'll push for serious playing time at Virginia.  He was the third goalie at Michigan, and while we are pretty good here - we ain't the Hoos (yet).

I agree with M&BWahoo that the ECAC would be a good fit for Michigan, and I hear that's what they are considering for the D1 team.  The ECAC has a pretty wide range of teams, from Bellarmine and Hobart up to Loyola and Denver.  Plus Ohio State plays there.  It's better than the MAAC, but it's not the ACC by any means.  Making the tournament in their first four years would be an achievable goal, especially if they build the right facilities.

The Impaler

January 29th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

As a senior, people have told me that these have been the worst 4 seasons in Michigan sports.  Well, thank god for Men's Lax.  Make it a perfect 4 yrs (almost with that loss last year).  Special shoutout to freshman year floormate Matt Asperheim.  Go Blue!

CarlisleWolverine

January 29th, 2011 at 8:02 PM ^

Where would be the best place to find tickets?  I would love to take the kids.  They just started playing, and to have the see Michigan play would be outstanding!  Does anyone know what the name of the venue is?