September 28, 2011

Michigan's First Division I Schedule Highlighted by Ohio State Game

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | Related: Lax 'Sport of the Future'

In its first varsity season, Michigan, led by coach John Paul, will face four teams that finished last year ranked inside the top 20. A big game with Ohio State in the Big House is also on the schedule.

© Tony Ding

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan men's lacrosse team, in its first varsity season and playing with essentially a club roster, is not backing down from any challenges judging by its 2012 spring schedule.

When the schedule is officially announced (expected later this week) it will include games against reigning final four team Denver, North Carolina, Loyola, Harvard, Delaware, Rutgers, Penn State and, of course, bitter, border rival Ohio State, with few cupcakes in between.

Of those games, the Loyola and Delaware games will be played in Ann Arbor, and it looks like there will be another big home game in town in the spring.

The game against the Buckeyes is set to be played in Michigan Stadium, a.k.a. The Big House, and paired with the Wolverines' annual spring football scrimmage that attracts thousands of fans.

Since 2008, Ohio State has similarly paired a home lacrosse game with its spring football scrimmage at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes have set and broken the all-time NCAA regular season lacrosse game attendance record each time. In the 2011 "Showdown at the 'Shoe," game against Air Force, 31,078 fans were announced to have watched.

Michigan coach John Paul said the Wolverines would like to surpass that record at their 109,901 seat home venue in Ann Arbor this year.

"We'd really like to set the attendance record that day," Paul told Lacrosse Magazine earlier this week.

Also on the Michigan spring schedule are: Detroit Mercy, Air Force, Jacksonville, Mercer, Bellarmine and Mount St. Mary's.

Paul said home games can be played in Michigan Stadium and the Wolverines' soccer facility, or, if weather forces games indoors, Oosterbaan Field House, where the club team played and where they've practiced this fall. Early plans are in the works for a lacrosse-only facility to be finished in three to four years, Paul said.

Dates and start times for all games should be announced officially by Michigan by the end of this week, but athletic director Dave Brandon, in an interview with Lacrosse Magazine on Tuesday, talked in general about the lacrosse game that will coincide with the Wolverines football scrimmage.

"I think it would be a great tradition to play them [Ohio State] here whenever we can for a spring game scrimmage and showcase the program," Brandon said.

Asked if Michigan and Ohio State could possibly alternate serving as host for such a game each year, Brandon said: "That's up to them. I'm not sure if they've got a thought on that."

Michigan Stadium's all-time attendance record is 114,804 set just 18 days ago when Michigan football played Notre Dame in the first night game at the venue.

The men's lacrosse team scrimmages Providence and Concordia (Wisc.) Sunday afternoon in the Big House, and it will become the third Wolverines team to play there after football and hockey.

Because Paul was not officially hired until early June and because of Michigan's decision to turn the club team to varsity for the 2011-2012 academic year, Paul got a late start scheduling but said he was generally pleased with the games he was able to get, although the team will play more games than ideal in the early weeks of the spring.

"Pretty much everybody wanted to play us, which is understandable," Paul said. "It was just trying to fit into people's one available weekend. And of course everybody wanted to play at home at that point because their budgets were set. It's actually kind of miraculous that we got some of the home games we did, and we able to put the schedule together we did."

"It worked out pretty well. The beginning doesn't make much sense, it's pretty compacted. We won't play that many games in that many days in the future, but in the first year we can't be as picky as we'd like to be."

After Sunday's scrimmages at Michigan Stadium, the Wolverines will play St. Joseph's and Towson at the Nick Colleluori Classic Saturday, Oct. 8, in Philadelphia.

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