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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Michigan Midweek Preview: Loyola Marymount

After escaping with a double-overtime victory against Oregon on Saturday, the Wolverines are bound to rebound with a better performance against Loyola Marymount. There should be many fewer distractions for Michigan, and I don't think the opponent will be as hungry.

This brings us to Loyola Marymount. The Lions were ranked #16 in the preseason, moved up to 15th after winning their first game, but dropped down to 21st following a 2-game losing skid. They rebounded with a victory, but have not re-entered the polls. The game takes place tonight at Leavey Field (Google Map) on the Loyola Marymount campus.

The Schedule

LMU's first game was a 9-3 victory over San Diego State. The Aztecs are 1-3 on the season, and haven't yet cracked double-digit goals. Against their most comparable competition to Michigan, they lost 23-5 to Arizona State. For LMU to play them as close as they did is no impressive feat.

LMU first ended up on the wrong side of the ledger this year in a 10-16 loss to BYU. The Cougars, unlike SDSU, are a very strong team, off to a 5-0 start. Loyola Marymount is the only team to hit double-digits against BYU so far this season, but it sounds like most of the Lions' goals came against the backup BYU D.

In their following game, the Lions dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Santa Clara, 8-9. The Broncos are 5-1 to start the year, though LMU is by far the the biggest pelt in their trophy case (they also beat Oregon, but we're already familiar with the Ducks' struggles around here). This game played out like the Michigan-Oregon game, with Santa Clara playing the comeback role.

LMU finally rebounded against USC, earning a 9-7 win on the road. However, the Trojans are 0-5 on the year, and that's the closest margin of defeat they've been dealt all season.

So, what does LMU's schedule to-date tell us? They're an OK team, but they probably aren't going to challenge for any serious honors this year unless they can improve over the course of the season. Early in the year is probably a good time for Michigan to catch them.

Players to Watch

Magnus Karlsson (!!!!) is LMU's primary offensive threat. He's averaging a hat trick per game, along with an assist. The senior midfielder had his best all-around game against LMU's best competition, nothing 3 goals and 2 assists against BYU.

Junior attack Chase Parlett is a serious scoring threat, as he has 9 goals on the season - but he only has one assist to go along with it. Based on the stats, he's more of a finisher than anything. UPDATE 2:35PM: Parlett is out for this game anyway.

Sophomore midfielder Nolan Smith averages a goal and an assist per game. Attacks Max Zeff and Evan Snively and midfielder Travis Abraham are the other Lions averaging at least 1 PPG.

On the other end, seniors Nick Roessler and Marc Napp are the cornerstones of the LMU defense. Napp was a third-team All-American last year. It appears that freshman Michael Hanover plays an important role in the defensive midfield, based on stats alone.

In goal, senior Henry Bradley has gotten some time, but it appears that freshman Connor DeVane is The Guy. He's averaging 9 goals against per game, with a save percentage of .650.

No word on the faceoff situation for LMU, which should be a key for many Michigan games this spring. From the sounds of things, the Lions' clear hasn't performed well in the early season, and that's an area Michigan is always keen to take advantage.


UMGoBlog's Josh Hagerman previews the game. The official site's blog of the trip is up to day 5.


I'd almost go so far as to give the team a mulligan for the Oregon game, as they had transportation issues and weird weather to contend with - and the Ducks had more to prove than maybe any team in the nation. Of course, the coaching staff and players aren't going to give themselves a mulligan for a questionable performance, and they've undoubtedly been preparing as though that game was a loss.

Because of that, I don't think we're due for a second letdown game in a row. LMU seems to have its fair share of issues, and Michigan's coaching staff and players are more than capable of taking advantage. I expect to see a 17-4 Wolverine victory.

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