- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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They’ve had close calls and blowouts along with a recognition that this first lacrosse season for Michigan would be more about building than winning.
But every once in a while, a victory could provide some positive affirmation. So after five straight losses, including one in overtime to Jacksonville on Friday, Michigan picked up its first win in program history on Sunday, beating Mercer 14-4 in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I think this whole weekend has (helped motivation),” Michigan head coach John Paul said by phone Sunday. “We were so close on Friday and had a great opportunity today to put some more things together and we went out and executed. We have eight more opportunities coming up, one in three days.
“So we continue to build on that. So it feels great in that sense to get the win but more than anything, it just feels like we’re on the right track.”
Junior attack Thomas Paras had four goals and two assists in the win, a game Michigan never trailed and had three players with at least three goals. Freshman goalie Emil Weiss had four saves to boost Michigan to 1-5 this year.
Part of this transition has been changing the way Michigan has played from what it has done in the past. Paul implemented a ball-control offense this season -- something not often used in lacrosse -- to cut down the amount of possessions in a game.
It has called for smarter decisions and learning a new way to play. It has been what Paul said has improved the most over the first few weeks of the season.
“We’re playing a very unique style of lacrosse that we haven’t played before and probably won’t be playing in four or five years,” Paul said. “It’s all-encompassing and something they have to understand every decision they make on the field is part of that. Do I pass here? Do I dodge here? Do I go forward with this? Back with this?
“They are decisions they have to make and they are the right decision and have opportunity to win games. Doing it so differently is a big adjustment for us.”
The next adjustment -- playing at home. Michigan has its first home game in program history Wednesday, when the Wolverines face Loyola (Md.).
“We didn’t get a jump on scheduling until this summer and so certainly this year is not the way we are going to schedule in the future,” Paul said. “I thought we put together a pretty good schedule and the one tough part of it is we have all these games crammed into the start of the season, mostly on the road.
“We went through that and improved that process and that toughened us up a little bit.”