For those of you who are unaware, the University of Michigan is in the midst of its inaugural season as a Division I lacrosse program. On St. Patrick’s Day, Team One (as the Wolverines call themselves while adopting every element of Michigan football they can) played in their first ever varsity game at Michigan Stadium.
If you’re interested in a detailed breakdown of the game itself, you’re in the wrong place. In fact, I don’t know that you will find any such thing anywhere. I will tell you that Michigan got off to a furious start with a 3-0 lead in the opening four minutes. As has been a theme all year, Michigan faded after a hot start. Ultimately the Wolverines lost 13-9 to Bellarmine University. (Bellarmine is a school in Louisville. You can look it up.)
Yes, the Wolverines let another one of the rare “winnable” games slip away, falling to 1-7. But hey, the Ws and Ls don’t matter in year one. The goals this year are building the team culture and selling merchandise. I did my part; I bought a sweet hat.
Michigan has plans to build a lacrosse-only stadium. Presumably the capacity at the new facility will be a more appropriate size. In the meantime, at least for this year, the Wolverines are playing the majority of their home games at Michigan Stadium in front of 109,401 empty seats. (That would make attendance 500. That’s a total guess.)
I was curious to see how Michigan athletics would handle a lacrosse game at Michigan Stadium. Despite the cavernous feeling in an empty Big House, it felt like a natural. It makes me a little sad to think they’re going to be playing most of their games one day in some other venue. I would rather that lacrosse suddenly pick up 80,000 fans and make Michigan Stadium a viable option.
Only a handful of sections were open on the tunnel side. A sizable Bellarmine contingent staked out its territory in Section 1. I think I can safely assume everyone who traveled from Kentucky was family of the Bellarmine team. I would venture to guess that a majority of Wolverine fans were also family and friends. I imagine the gorgeous weather encouraged a few more fans to come see the game, including myself. (I wanted to go to the game, but I wouldn’t invest in the effort with typical Michigan March weather.)
The game day operations were up to their usual schticks. The digital scoreboards were on. They incorporated a little bit of the Crisler experience as the public address announcer urged us before the game to “MAKE SOME NOOOOISE!” The DJ’s play list was basically the same as football’s, including coming out of the tunnel to Pop Evil’s “In The Big House.” There was no band, but “The Victors” was played over the loud speakers after goals. Cokes were $6, making it nearly as expensive as the ticket ($10).
I was a little disappointed, though not surprised, that the lacrosse field lines were barely visible. The football yard lines completely dominated the field and were a much brighter white. Though that proved a disappointment today, it is probably good news for the football Spring Game on April 14. Football viewers won’t be too distracted by the lacrosse field which should be set up as lacrosse will host the Battle in the Big House versus Ohio State that day. For those of you planning on watching the game against the Buckeyes, be forewarned, that’s not one of the “winnable” games.