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Look for challenge: Northern Michigan University lacrosse team seeks Davenport again in GLIAC Tournament

Northern Michigan University’s Katelyn Mongold, right, watches as her shot bounces past Grand Valley State goalie Abigail Dengler and into the net during the first half of their GLIAC lacrosse game played April 18 at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

“They now are kind of this big bad monster in our team’s heads and they need to get that out of their system.” — Lindsey LeMAY, NMU head lacrosse coach, on the chance for a rematch against Davenport, which outscored the Wildcats 39-9 in 2 matches last weekend

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MARQUETTE — After a pair of blowout losses at home against Grand Valley State, the Northern Michigan University women’s lacrosse team was hoping to get back on track last weekend against Davenport.

Instead, the Wildcats were dealt two more rough defeats by the Panthers on Friday and Sunday and now enter the GLIAC Tournament a week from now on a four-game losing streak.

NMU head coach Lindsey LeMay said last weekend came down to her team struggling offensively as they were outscored 39-9 over the course of two games while underestimating Davenport.

Northern Michigan University's Tess Kostelec, center, flings the ball at the net to score a goal as Grand Valley State's Leigha Johnson, second from left, and Maggie Hammer, second from right, try to defend during the second half of their GLIAC lacrosse game played April 18 at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

“I think that the score really shows that both games were the same, but the first game, we certainly went in unprepared and then just kind of crumbled immediately,” she said in a Monday Zoom interview about defeats by the scores of 18-4 and 21-5.

“And it’s not something that I’ve ever seen a team do, just kind of give up in the first two minutes of a game, but that’s what happened on Friday. I tried to pull them out of it a lot of times, but we’d come in thinking that we were a lot closer to this team than in reality we were, which logically if you look at their stats against the teams they’ve played, and we’ve played a lot of the same teams, we should’ve realized that they were going to be a tougher opponent than we thought.

“But I think (our) team was used to the Davenport of the last time that they played them, which was two years ago, and they came in underestimating them and it was a little bit of a shock.

“So then we re-collected and talked about it on Saturday, and I told them going into the next game the only thing that would make me not proud of them is if they gave up in the second game.

“And I will say that they did not give up in the second game, but ultimately, none of our scoring threats could score at all. Davenport did a very effective job of shutting down our top players and our secondary players were not ready for the responsibility of having to be the ones to score.

“So that’s ultimately why we went down … even though effort-wise and I think mentality-wise, the second game was so much better than the first game, we just couldn’t score like a single goal.

“It was very frustrating to watch, but I think it is a good reality check for them to see where the top teams in our conference and in our region are because Davenport and Grand Valley are both in the top of our region now and to see where teams are and how far we are from being there.

“Because I do think it sets us up for knowing the work we needed to do and for me knowing the bar I need to set for my freshmen coming in next year. Overall, just a good reality check.”

When asked if Grand Valley or Davenport was the more frustrating weekend, LeMay said it was definitely the one against the Panthers.

“The Davenport games were much more frustrating,” she said. “We handled Grand Valley’s pressure much better and were able to still run our offense and not emotionally crumble the way that we did against Davenport. I don’t know if it’s a physicality thing, or if it’s just because it wasn’t what they expected then, even though it was in our (scouting reports). They just couldn’t handle the physicality of Davenport. They’re very good athletes and they have more weapons than we do, so it shouldn’t have been a shock.

“But I think just because Grand Valley is less up front about their physicality than Davenport, we handled that better.”

Now the Wildcats must wait to find out whether they will get a rematch with either the Lakers or the Panthers, but the good thing is they definitely know what to expect at this point.

“Ultimately, we played both teams twice in a row,” LeMay said. “So we’re pretty aware of what they do offensively. It’s just we need to figure out how to score and we can’t have the issue that we had this weekend where we just shut down entirely and we can’t get the ball in the middle of the 8 at all. We barely had any shots in the second game.

“It’s just working on the ability to produce on our offense is going to be the main thing and ultimately, running because we are now down to about 15 healthy players. So this last game’s going to rely a lot on mental toughness and the ability to keep fighting when you’re tired.”

Neither opponent is going to be easy, but LeMay is hoping Northern gets a chance to redeem itself against Davenport.

“I want the Davenport rematch,” she said. “I want to score on Davenport. I think we can and I think that they now are kind of this big bad monster in our team’s heads and they need to get that out of their system because there’s no reason that they should’ve not been able to produce at all against them.

“I know they’re frustrated by it and I’m frustrated by it, so I want Round 3 against Davenport if possible.”

The GLIAC schedule shows the league tournament will be held Friday through Sunday, May 7-9, with the highest tournament seed hosting. That should be Grand Valley after the Lakers defeated Davenport 20-15 on Tuesday in the league’s final regular-season game.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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