ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Runs in the first and second half spoiled the party for the Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse team as the Dolphins fell at No. 8 Michigan, 13-9, Friday afternoon at U-M Lacrosse Stadium.
“Outside of the beginning run, it was goal for goal on many occasions and I’m really proud of how hard our team fought. We needed to shoot better today; if that could’ve improved, it would’ve been a different game,” commented head coach Mindy McCord. “With 18 minutes left, it was a two-goal game then we struggled to clear. There were moments in the game where those possessions might have made the difference. It was tough to get our momentum because we were always trailing, and they fought to keep in the game. Had a couple things gone our way – from shooting to some clear possessions – it could’ve been a different story.”
Following the Dolphins’ first-ever NCAA Tournament win earlier in the week, Jacksonville welcomed the challenge of facing site host and No. 8 seed Michigan on the road. Though the Wolverines controlled the draw early on, the Dolphins started to find their stride heading into halftime.
Michigan used its home field advantage to capitalize on a 4-0 run through the first four minutes, but the Dolphins immediately countered with three of the next four goals. Freshman Molly Brock and junior McKenna Rushford put away back-to-back goals at 25:03 and 23:55, respectively.
A Wolverine mark interrupted the Dolphins’ run, but it wasn’t long before sophomore Jenny Kinsey and senior captain Lillie Millerpulled a classic give-and-go play to bring JU within two, 5-3, with 21:28 on the clock. Though Jacksonville held a 21-19 advantage on shots, it was Michigan goalie Mira Shane who kept the Dolphins’ high-scoring offense in check. Shane recorded 11 saves in the first half to keep the hosts ahead, 7-5.
Added McCord, “Kudos to their goalie – she’s a senior and made some great plays. You have to give it to them because they came out hungry and took advantage of it from the beginning.”
Brock completed her hat trick just 4:54 into the second half, but a decisive three-goal run from 18:15 to 14:16 by Michigan extended the Wolverines lead to five, 12-7. Despite goals from junior Alexis Deaken (18:24), Kinsey (10:30), and senior captain Lillie Miller (3:04), the Wolverines were able to hold on for the win, 13-9.
Brock (3g) and Kinsey (2g) combined for five goals, while Miller finished the day with three points (1g, 2a). Sophomore Megan Prescott won a game-high four draws for the Dolphins, while Rushford finished the day with three draws and three ground balls.
With eight saves in 56:10 minutes of action in goal, redshirt-freshman Sharn Muffett helped the Dolphins keep the Wolverines within striking distance. Muffett also recorded a career-high five ground balls and caused two turnovers in the effort.
McCord also spoke to Muffett’s resiliency following the game. “I’m really proud of Sharn for stepping in. She’s gotten very limited minutes all season and she came in like she’s been the starter all year. Coming off of [the ASUN Tournament] that was more of a scoring tournament, to get back to defense and defense wins championships. It was nice to see them play good defense.”
Though the result was not what was hoped for, the Dolphins achieved several incredible milestones in 2019: eight players reached the 100-career milestone in several statistical categories; JU matched the program record for wins in a season with 17; and the team won its eighth regular season conference title, its seventh conference tournament title, made its sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game.