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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Michigan 26, Florida 6

Michigan 1-0. Photo from Official Website.

The final score is not the scary part. We're used to seeing Michigan put up gaudy numbers, even against good competition. What is scary is how easy it looked for the Wolverines. They spent much of the second half emptying the bench, trying to run set plays for defensemen and freshmen, and playing a 5-4 sophomore in the net (love you, Cy). This game could have much more easily been 35-3 than 20-10.

If Florida's half as good as they were expected to be this season, this is easily the best Michigan team I've seen in the past four years. And it's not close. Aside from one area of potential weakness (faceoffs), the Wolverines are as good as they've ever been.

Let's get down to the...

Tempo Free

From the Michigan recap, here's your tempo-free breakdown:

Florida Michigan
Faceoff Wins 9 Faceoff Wins 26
Clearing 11-24 Clearing 16-21
Possessions 39 Possessions 60
Goals 6 Goals 26
Offensive Efficiency .154 Offensive Efficiency .433

If Florida's faceoff specialists are even half-competent (and somebody with insider information suggests that may not be the case, so don't get too excited), Michigan dominated a good squad in terms of possession. Florida was held under .500 on their clear, whereas the Wolverines succeeded on more than 75% of their own attempts.

The Wolverine defense was pretty impressive too, and I can't even count how many excellent effort pays I saw to check from behind and gain possession, or perfectly-timed slides, or... I'm getting ahead of myself here. Florida was held to .154 offensive efficiency, which is in the vicinity of the best numbers the Wolverines put up against top-25 competition last year.

Offensively, this was a well-oiled machine. Michigan finished with a .433 efficiency, and it probably could have been even higher if the Wolverines hadn't spent a good portion of the second half running set plays for long sticks and freshmen. Florida's goalie Matt Rivers also performed very well.


There's this fellow with whom you may be familiar. He goes by the name Trevor Yealy, and is one of the most prolific scorers in MCLA history. Yealy's been a ruthless finisher over his first three years, but when teams schemed to take that away, he could be shut down - often at the expense of Michigan's offense on the whole. Kids, he's a one-trick pony no more. Instead of playing almost exclusively on the crease, he dodged from X, he dodged from the wing, and he even matched his career high in assists (with 2). He played one of the wing midfield positions on faceoffs... he did it all. And looked really good doing it. Plus he had a backwards, between the legs goal, which is both hilarious and awesome.

Now that I'm done fawning over Yealy - because let's be honest, it's hardly original - let's talk some other offensive players. Chad Carroll is new to the team, but you wouldn't have guessed it with the comfort he showed, or the production (6 goals and an assist). A 2-handed shooter, his lefty(?) shot looked to me like it was probably one of the hardest on the team. He's got great size and good athleticism - which he was more than willing to display on the ride. Plenty of other guys scored their first goals in the maize-and-blue, with freshmen Jeff Chu, Fern Murias, and LSM Brett Moscati finding the back of the net. Chu and Murias are speedy little dodgers who are going to be a serious pain for opposing defenses down the road.

Defensively, it was easy to see how much Michigan missed Harrison Freid in their first two scrimmages this spring. He was super-physical, and Florida's offensive players (who had mostly had good height, but probably weighed a combined 60 pounds) couldn't handle his play. Austin Swaney also impressed me with a number of good stick checks. LSM Matt Asperheim is always going to be impressive going forward with the ball, as he has excellent stick skills for a long pole. I wasn't impressed by Florida's speed, either, a testament to Michigan's team speed all over the field.

One thing I found notable was Freid playing attack on Michigan's 10-man ride in the second half. Not sure if it was a strategic decision, or just trying to help him score an easy goal by breaking up a Florida clear. I would guess it's the latter, since it doesn't make sense to employ a secret tactic with a huge lead in the first game.

Brian Greiner (21/27) started on faceoffs, and Edward Ernst (5/8) came in later in the game. I thought Greiner looked pretty good, and I wouldn't be surprised if he can play his way into good form during the early season - especially since these are his first games that count in over a year - and make the faceoff a strength. Sure, it won't be as good as it has been over the last 3 seasons, but doing 50% or slightly better against decent teams is certainly an attainable goal.

...Speaking of goal (how's that for a segue?), Mark Stone started the game, and was replaced at halftime by Andrew Fowler. Stone seems to be the better natural goalie, in terms of quick reactions to shots, as well as being a vocal leader for the defense. Fowler is more comfortable playing outside the net in the clearing game. Cy Abdelnour played the final five minutes of the game, and saved the only shot he faced.

Up Next

Michigan's annual Spring Break trip kicks off on Friday in Los Angeles, as the Wolverines take on Oregon at 6PM (Pacific Time?) at Harvard Westlake High School. The Ducks have started the season on a disappointing note, getting blasted 2-10 by Cal in the opener, and dropping a 6-7 decision to Santa Clara.


  1. I'm disappointed that Florida didn't put up much of a fight in this one (not quite on those predictions Bartomioli) but Michigan seems to have cleaned up a few things since their scrimmages. I wasn't at the game, but from what I saw against Kenyon vs. Bellarmine, it's night and day on defense and riding with and without Freid. Let's hope he stays healthy.

    A note on Yealy: he's actually always been a pretty well rounded player. I know the stats don't bear that out, but remember that we have never been quite this stacked at attack. There's never really been a reason to move him off the crease, as no one had figured out how to shut him down until the tourney last year. I mean, he put up something like 11 goals against COLORADO STATE two years ago, each one parked right on the crease. I think the staff is just preparing for teams to completely sell out to stop him this year, and they will start moving him around more to open things up for everyone else.

  2. Matt, I definitely didn't mean to imply that Yealy COULDN'T do those things before, just that he didn't.

    Showing off his versatility definitely adds a lot of potency to the Michigan offense.