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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #59 Michigan Wolverines

The injury bug bit the Wolverines pretty hard in 2019.

Michigan Photography

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review!

#59 Michigan Wolverines

Conference: Big Ten
2019 Record: 4-9 (1-4 in Big Ten)
Head coach: Kevin Conry (2nd Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Alex Buckanavage (25)
Assists: Alex Buckanavage (23)
Points: Alex Buckanavage (48)
Faceoffs: Finn Goonan (40-of-164; 24.4%)
Ground balls: Nick DeCaprio (34)
Caused turnovers: Nick DeCaprio (27)
Goals against average: Tommy Heidt (13.24 GAA)
Save percentage: Tommy Heidt (48.8%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Nick DeCaprio (27 CTs, 34 GBs, 13.5% FOs, 2 Gs, 3 As), M Decker Curran (21 Gs, 11 As, 23 GBs, 2 CTs), G Tommy Heidt (13.24 GAA, 48.8% SV%, 23 GBs, 1 CT), M Brent Noseworthy (18 Gs, 4 As, 10 GBs, 2 CTs, 40% FOs), D Michael Borda (10 CTs, 14 GBs), SSDM MJ Melillo (8 CTs, 16 GBs, 1 A), D Peter Hollen (7 CTs, 15 GBs), G Gunner Garn (13.81 GAA, 44.3% SV%, 14 GBs, 1 CT), M Brandon Shima (3 Gs, 4 As, 3 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 70 of 233 points (30%)
Senior starts lost: 61 of 130 (46.9%)

Season Summary

After two straight 8-6 seasons and ending 2018 with a Big Ten road victory over Penn State, things looked promising for Kevin Conry’s crew.

But after winning three of their first four games, with their lone loss coming in double overtime against Drexel, Michigan lost eight straight before rebounding for their first ever victory over archrival Ohio State and eliminated them from any postseason contention.

One huge reason for their struggles were injuries, especially at the faceoff X. Sophomore Conor Cronin played in three games and went 37-of-67 (55.2%) at the dot after going 52.8% in his freshman year. Junior Matt Dellacroce went 28-of-54 (51.9%) in four games. 121 draws were taken by Cronin and Dellacroce out of Michigan’s 364 total faceoffs.

Freshman Nick Rowlett entered as a top five incoming FOGO in the entire 2019 class and probably would have been the team’s top faceoff man, but did not appear in any games. Instead, the team heavily relied on defenseman Finn Goonan, who took 162 draws for the Wolverines. In summary, Michigan pretty much had the worst luck at the most important position on the field.

Faceoffs were the largest group that saw injuries, but the injury bug also hit the midfield. Brent Noseworthy played in 10 games with eight starts but fought through a lower-body injury for the entire year. He eventually became Michigan’s first ever 100-goal scorer. Rocco Sutherland appeared in two games early but missed the rest of the season due to injury.

But outside of injuries, the Wolverines had some bright spots in their personnel. Sophomore Alex Buckanavage tied a Michigan single-season record for points with 48 and set a single-season record for assists with 23. He also became Michigan’s third ever 20-20 player in a year. Classmate Kevin Mack finished second in points (37) and assists (18) and was joined by freshman Bryce Clay, who completed his rookie season with 22 goals and 28 points.

With Noseworthy battling his injury, senior Decker Curran and junior Avery Myers led the way up top at midfield. Curran had 21 goals and 32 points, while Myers finished second on the team with 24 goals and third in points with 34 in a breakthrough season. Michigan had six players in double digit point figures, with Noseworthy’s 22 being the lowest. Freshman Javon Johnson and senior Brandon Shima each had seven points.

Senior Nick DeCaprio led a defense that finished first in the Big Ten in caused turnovers per game (9.50) and man-down defense (68.9%). DeCaprio finished ninth in the country in caused turnovers per game (2.08) and his 27 total CTs in the season were a program record. Classmate Michael Borda and freshman Andrew Darby were the main starting close defense unit, with Goonan, Austin Robinson, and Peter Hollen also contributing. MJ Melillo was their top short stick defensive midfielder.

The goalies were tested this season as Tommy Heidt started the first eight games of the season, but had a 48.8% save percentage. He did have a 23-save performance against Yale in Atlanta. Senior Gunner Garn started the final five games of the year, including a nine save performance against Ohio State in the season finale.

Looking Ahead

Michigan does lose a good chunk of key contributors from a year ago in Curran, DeCaprio, Melillo, Noseworthy, and both goalies. The good news is that Sutherland will return after his injury-riddled season and will most likely come out of the midfield.

The entire starting attack of Buckanavage, Clay, and Mack, as well as reserve attackman Jason Brown, will all be back, as will Avery Myers at midfield who will join Sutherland. Johnson and Steven Schneider are other options up top. Freshman Josh Zawada could see some immediate playing time as he enters in the fall.

Darby is the only main returning starting close defensemen from a year ago, but does have Robinson, Jackson Zaugg, and Mbogo Mwangi returning. Goonan is also back as a key long pole, along with SSDMs Andrew Russell and Christian Ford.

With Heidt and Garn gone, the starting goalie spot is wide open. Rising senior Matt Trowbridge started Michigan’s first six games of the season in 2018 when Heidt was injured. Either Trowbridge or John Kiracofe, who didn’t play in his freshman season, are the team’s two returning options. Incoming freshman Mac Fotiades could also be an option, who also brings some offense to Ann Arbor. And with the offseason comes the returns of Cronin, Dellacroce, and Rowlett at the faceoff X, which is much better than relying on a long pole.

2020 may not be the year we finally expect Michigan to truly breakthrough into the Big Ten and college lacrosse ranks, but they should be much better than they were a year ago. However, the pieces appear to be coming together for what could be a really big 2021 season.

Poll

How many wins will Michigan get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    0-3
    (7 votes)
  • 27%
    4-5
    (20 votes)
  • 47%
    6-7
    (35 votes)
  • 15%
    8+
    (11 votes)
73 votes total Vote Now