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February 16, 2013

Wolverines fall short in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE - Michigan's Team One, the inaugural varsity lacrosse squad in Ann Arbor, stumbled out of the gate, notching only one win. The beginning of Team Two's campaign hasn't raced out to a much better start after a 12-6 loss to Bellarmine.

The team's second game started on the right note: a goal from Andrew Portnoy and two from Thomas Paras gave U-M a 3-0 advantage with only 5:02 off the clock. From that point on, however, Bellarmine dominated. A six-goal run through the remainder of the first quarter and most of the second allowed the Knights to seize momentum.

"Our defense has come a long way," coach John Paul said. "I thought we did a pretty good job in 6-on-6 defense. We always have Gerry [goalie Gerald Logan] back there as well. That was a big part of it, and any team at this level if you're going to give them great transition opportunities, they're going to capitalize on it. We just gave up too many of those."

Michigan managed to stem the tide, drawing within 6-4 at halftime on freshman Peter Kraus' first career goal, and closing the gap to just one 3:48 into the third quarter on freshman Canadian Kyle Jackson's shot. Bellarmine was hit with a penalty for cross-checking on Jackson's goal, and the chance to draw level loomed.

Bellarmine put an end to any of those hopes, scoring a man-down goal that keyed yet another big run, this time five straight. The damage looked like it may be longer-lasting than the end of this contest when goalie Gerald Logan - who allowed 11 goals while making an astounding 17 saves - went down with a right shoulder injury. Fortunately, it seems Logan's injury is not serious.

"I don't know yet. I guess we'll find out on Monday, but initial indications are that it's not that serious. That's what I hope happens, that we'll have him back next week."

One of the bright spots for Michigan was freshman Brad Lott. Playing in his hometown, the faceoff specialist won seven of 11 first-half draws. Although he faded in the second frame to finish with an 8-of-18 mark, the potential to turn what was one of the Wolverines' biggest deficiencies last year - U-M was 57th nationally in faceoffs out of 61 teams in 2012 - into a potential strength in the future.

"He really came into this game on a pretty compressed developmental timeline," Paul explained. "We know that he's our best faceoff option, but he has a long way to go and a lot to learn. He obviously is talented and you could see it at the start of the game. He'll help us a lot but he has a lot to learn as well."

"For me, it's all about just continuing to work hard," Lott echoed. "Being from Kentucky is kind of a disadvantage for me. Being a freshman going against juniors and seniors in college is another disadvantage. I guess I need to just get stronger, get better, get quicker and just keep working hard. Communication is a big thing. We've just got to keep getting better and keep working forward."


The road ahead doesn't get any easier for John Paul's Wolverines. This contest was the first in a seven-game road swing, and perennial power Johns Hopkins is the next opponent.

"That's not easier? Hopkins?" Paul joked. "Everything we're doing these first two or three years of the program is about process. We'll get better if we all take lessons from days like today and do the right things to improve week-to-week. That's what next week's about. It doesn't matter who we're playing, that's what we need to do."

NOTES

• Lott wasn't the only Wolverine to take draws on the day. Fellow freshmen Charlie Keady (LSM) and Kevin Wylie combined to go 1/3 at the dot.
• Andrew Portnoy and Peter Kraus each scored his first career goal, in the first action of the year for either player.
• Backup goalie Dy;an Westerhold finished the game after Logan's injury allowing one goal and making zero saves.
• Kyle Jackson, Thomas Paras (two goals each), and freshman midfielder Mike Hernandez (2 assists in his first action of the year) led Michigan in scoring with two goals apiece.
• Special teams were an issue for Michigan. The Wolverines only surrendered two man-down chances, and kept Bellarmine off the board in both. However, the Wolverines' man-up was similarly inept. U-M failed to score in six chances, and allowed a man-down goal in the third quarter that sparked a five-goal run by the Knights.


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