Jordan Wohl, Staff Writer
Photo//Alana Dackiw/Living it Digital Photography
The Road so Far (4-3 Record Overall):
February 10th vs Alma College (2-3, NCAA D3): 12-4 Loss
March 2nd vs Tennessee Wesleyan (4-4): 12-6 Loss
March 4th @ Montreat (0-5): 8-7 Win
March 6th vs Midland (0-5): 9-6 Win
March 8th vs Missouri Valley (1-5): 13-6 Win
March 15th @ Thomas More (1-7, NCAA D2): 8-6 Win
March 22nd vs SCAD (1-6): 10-9 Overtime Loss
Goals: 9 - Mason Loudermilk
Assists: 6 - Joe Atherall
Points: 12 - Mason Loudermilk
Faceoffs: 51.6% - Will Atherall
Goaltending- Jack Meyers (6 GP, 7.32 GAA, 54.5 SV%)
The 2023 Wolverines began their campaign with two losses to NCAA DIII Alma College and Tennessee Wesleyan. Trailing at halftime in their third game of the season against Montreat, the Wolverines turned to sophomore goaltender Jack Meyers and have not looked back since. With a four win-stretch coming after the early struggles, Meyers has posted a stellar 7.32 Goals-Against Average to anchor a tenacious defense.
Meyers had this to say about his hot start: “I was able to get a couple of big saves early in the third against Montreat and we started to make that comeback to win the game. From there, I clicked with the guys on defense and we’re hoping to keep that momentum going forward.”
The team has posted an overall Goals-Against Per-Game of 8.37, which is good for ninth best in the nation. I caught up with senior midfielder and second-year Captain Joe Atherall to get his thoughts on the defensive performance so far, “Our defensive guys have been locking it down game in and game out. We brought in a group of younger offensive players this year, so having a veteran D-unit that can lock it down and stay top-ten in almost every defensive category helps give those younger offensive players time to get their feet wet at the beginning of the year.”
Despite their winning ways, goals have been hard to come by so far. Through their first seven games, the Wolverines have scored an average of 8.14 goals per game, a figure that finds them last among the nine programs in the WHAC and 20th among all 32 NAIA programs nationally.
From Meyers: “Last year we had Nolan Kelley, the NAIA leader in goals and lost him due to injury. Another player, Bryce Washington, set our program single-season assist record last season transferred to a NCAA DII program. So going into the season, we’ve been working with a lot of younger players offensively who have a lot of fight and you can definitely see it reflect in our play. We had some rough edges which needed to be smoothed out In the first two games, but going into our last few games, we’ve started to figure things out and are getting into a good flow.”
As the young Wolverines have gained experience offensively, the scoring output has started to take off, starting the season with only four goals against Alma to scoring 6, 8, 9, 13, 8, then 9 in the remainder of their out of conference games. The Wolverines have scored 9.4 goals per game in their last five, which will have to continue should they want to make noise in the WHAC.
Midfielder Liam Carney entered the program this year as a goaltender primarily on the depth chart but has carved out a pivotal role in the Wolverines offense with the play of Meyers in recent games, scoring three points in his first two games with increased minutes at midfielder.
He had this to say about the offensive play so far: “For us, not only do we need to trust each other but we also need to trust our system. It’s not news to anyone that we lost our top two point scorers from last year, so we’re going to need more of a ‘what can we do together as a team to win’ approach as opposed to ‘let’s get these guys the ball to work some magic.’ We have to play for each other, play unselfishly and play with a fire.”
Looking forward to the conference schedule, the Wolverines will have a few tests going forward. Atherall commented on the road ahead in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC): “The WHAC is loaded from top to bottom. It’s respected across the country that the WHAC is a dominant conference. Between the WHAC and the AAC, you have a majority of the dominant programs in the NAIA.”
In the last NAIA Coach’s Poll posted on March 22, nine of the top 10 lacrosse teams in the entire country are represented by five WHAC programs (#2 Indiana Tech, #6 Siena Heights, #7 Aquinas, #9 Lawrence Tech, #10 Concordia) and four Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) programs (#1 Keiser, #3 Reinhardt, #4 Cumberlands, #5 Webber International).
From Atherall: “When you shift out of that top group of teams in the WHAC, you still have programs in what’s considered the bottom half of the WHAC like Madonna, Lourdes, and Taylor who can beat anybody on any day. Even if you catch us on the wrong day and you aren’t ready, we’re going to win. So the WHAC is loaded. it's going to be a fist fight once we get into it.”
UM-Dearborn lacrosse opens their conference schedule on the road against ninth-ranked Lawrence Tech on Saturday, March 25.
WHAC Standings Going into Conference Play
Indiana Tech (6-2) (Home on April 5)
Concordia (5-1) (Away on April 15)
Lourdes (3-0) (Away on March 29)
Aquinas (3-3) (Home on April 1)
Madonna (3-3) (Away on April 12)
Lawrence Tech (2-1) (Away on March 25)
Siena Heights (2-2) (Home on April 22)
Taylor (2-2) (Home on April 19)
Mark Your Calendars! Key Games:
Rivalry Game @ Lawrence Tech
Saturday, March 25 at 5pm. Lawrence Tech Football Field in Southfield, Michigan
Rivalry Game @ Concordia University
Saturday, April 15 at 4pm. Ferry Field in Ann Arbor
“15 for Life” Game vs Taylor
Wednesday, April 19 at 6pm. Star International Academy
Senior Day vs Siena Heights
Saturday, April 22 at 2pm. Star International Academy