Michigan begins its twelfth season in NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse next week in Charlottesville. Many view the Wolverines as a sleeping giant in the midwest. They have top-rated academics and an athletic department committed to the sport with a dedicated lacrosse-only facility built in 2018. Despite these supports in place, the program has struggled to find its footing.
Michigan has just two winning seasons and is 6-37 in Big Ten play. Kevin Conry enters his sixth year as head coach in 2023. He is coming off 2022 where the team started 7-0, but ended the season on an 0-8 run. In 2023, he returns to an experienced roster with some key additions. We will start our preview by looking back at the 2022 season before turning the page to 2023.
2022: A Tale of Two Seasons
Everything seemed to be coming up maize and blue during the first two months of 2022. Michigan’s offense was explosive. They scored 20 or more goals in four of their seven wins. The offense was efficient, scoring on almost 40% of their possessions. The offense took a step back in the program’s eight losses with their offensive efficiency falling to 26.5%.
The Wolverines were led on offense by attackmen Josh Zawada (43G/34 A) and Michael Boehm (33G/30A). Zawada became the all-time leading scorer in 2022 and will look to add to that number in 2023. The Wolverines brought in Scott Bieda to replace Justin Turri in the offseason. Bieda comes in from Lafyette where he led the Leopard’s offense.
The defensive efficiency numbers faced even larger disparities in their wins and losses. In their seven wins, opponents scored on less than 20% of their possessions. In their eight losses, that number jumped to nearly 40%. A closer look at the schedule illustrates how the strength of their schedule impacted the Wolverine’s performance.
The Wolverine’s seven victories were against teams with an average RPI rating of 56.7, Delaware was the highest at 18. In their eight losses, that number jumped to 14.1. A closer look at Big Ten play shows the Wolverines were competitive. Removing their game agaisnt Maryland, the Wolverines lost by an average of 1.75 goals against their four other Big Ten counterparts. The losses included a pair of one-goal losses to Penn State and Rutgers, a two-goal loss to Ohio State, and a three-goal loss to Hopkins.
There are no moral victories and being close isn’t what Coach Conry or the Michigan Lacrosse program are striving for. Looking ahead to 2023 though, the Wolverines have reasons for optimism.
The Wolverines were young in 2022 with most of their lineup consisting of sophomores and juniors. With very few losses to graduation, Michigan will return an experienced team that will be reinforced with an addition from the transfer portal and getting healthy.
Peter Thompson comes in from Georgetown to help fortify the Wolverine’s midfield. The lefty grad transfer midfielder is an Ann Arbor native. Thompson was a 2x high school All-American and the state’s Player of the Year in 2018. Thompson will be reunited with attackman Bryce Clay. The two played their summer ball together in high school. Clay missed 2022 with an ACL injury but should be a nice compliment to Boehm and Zawada. Clay has scored at least 20 goals in each of the three seasons he played, including the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Michigan brought in eleven freshmen from the class of 2022. The class includes six four-stars and five three-star players. Three of those four-stars come from the Midwest. The class is headlined by Bo Lockwood (Hartland). He was the 2022 Player of the Year in the state of Michigan and led Hartand to the school’s first state championship.
2023 Schedule and Outlook
The Michigan Lacrosse schedule looks different in 2022. They have added games against Virginia and Hofstra to go with rematches against Marquette, Delaware, Notre Dame, and Harvard. The schedule will provide a stronger test for the experienced Wolverines and better prepare them for the challenging Big Ten slate. The Big Ten looks to be more open than it has been in years past.
Maryland graduated four SSDMs and needs to replace five of their six top scorers from 2022. Ohio State and Rutgers used the transfer portal to fortify their rosters and take aim at the Terps. The Wolverines are on par with Penn State and Johns Hopkins. Look for them to find their way into the top four of the Big Ten and go over Lacrosse Reference’s wins prediction.