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March 17, 2014 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-17

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2B - March 17, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com.

With a smie, Ulehia builds a new program

J ennifer Ulehla is smiling
as she walks up and down
the post-game handshake
line to pat her players on the
back. She's more bubblythan
expected, chomping on a piece
of gum like it somehow holds the
secrets to buildinga program
from scratch.
Ulehla, the
head coach
of the first-
year women's
team, just
played wit-
ness to a beat
down on her
home field. EVERETT
Northwest- COOK
ern - which
has won
seven of the last nine national
championships - scored 50 sec-
onds into the game. The Wolver-
ines were down by 10 less than
eight minutes into the contest.
The final score was 20-6, but
realistically, the Wildcats prob-
ably could have scored 40 if they
really wanted to.
The game against No. 8
Northwestern was Michigan's
fifth of the season. After a loss
to No. 14 Johns Hopkins on
Sunday, the Wolverines have
lost their first six games by a
combined score of 107-39.
And yet, Ulehla stands in that
line smiling, still, even after
handshakes and quick speech
to her young team, even after
a look over the box score and
interviews with the media.
The smile remains bdcause it
has to. This is Michigan's first
season, and the team is made up
entirely of freshmen. No exist-
ing culture for young recruits to
learn from. No upperclassmen
to give guidance about classes,
social life or other issues that
are outside of Ulehla's realm.
Not even enough depth to play
the style of defense that will
eventually be implemented.

The smile sticks because
at this point, everything is a
learning process and the game
results aren't all that important.
So, while it's not fun now, losing
isn't necessarily the worst thing
that could happen to this team.
"It's hard to say that this
year isn't about wins and losses,
because we are all competitive
and want to win, but ultimately,
it's about us building that foun-
dation to get better and playing
teams like (Northwestern),"
Ulehla said. "They are learn-
ing so much, and now we're in
season and playing these top
programs, and today, I was just
thrilled, because for me it was
like a great practice. You can't
simulate that."
It helps that Ulehla has expe-
rience with inaugural programs
- she was hired on at Michigan
after a stint as an assistant
coach at Florida, which started
its program in 2010. She's been
in charge of the program in Ann
Arbor since August 2011, and
since then, not much has caught
her by surprise.
The one thing that has
caught her off-guard, though,
is how hard it is to build lead-
ership and a winning culture
from scratch.
Ulehla appointed five Wol-
verines to her leadership coun-
cil to combat
some of these_
issues and has
brought in ,i twill
mentors from l
other athletic andi
programs to
help ease the be M i
Like every- wor
thing else in
the program, it
isn't easy now,
but the goal is that it will be in a
few years.
"When you have leadership
from up above down, some-
one just comes in, learns how

Michigan women's lacrosse coach Jennifer Ulehla has remained patient early in the season despite her team being outscored107-39 in its first six games.

to do it by following," Ulehla
said. "You've got leaders, and
the leaders have to make good
decisions if they are good. They
have to make difficult calls and
have difficult conversations.
That's a lot
for an 18 year
old to take
happen, on, especially
h e when we are
it will trying to
build a top
chigan program and
thy." are high. I
have to always
step back and
remind myself
of that, because it becomes
The other reason Ulehla
isn't as concerned with wins
and losses is because she didn't

pad this year's schedule. In the
game before Northwestern, the
Wolverines played the fifth-
ranked Gators. In the game
after Northwestern, Michigan
traveled to Maryland to play
Johns Hopkins.
All three of those games were
beyond blowouts, which ina
way, is kind of the point.
"I could have padded our
schedule, but that doesn't get us
to where we want to be," Ulehla
said. "It makes for a tough first
year, butI focus them on the
positives of the future. What we
do this year, is going to propel
us next year, and ultimately to
when these guys are juniors."
Ulehla has a tendency to
speak in absolutes, so it's not "If
we win the Big Ten," it's "When
we win the Big Ten." The goal is
for the Wolverines to compete

by the time this current class
of freshman are juniors. Ulehla
estimates that as the word about
Michigan and its head coach get
out there, her recruiting classes
only get better over the next
three years.
Eventually, everything else
will come with wins. The game
against Northwestern was
marketed as a "Maize Out," so
the first 250 fans in attendance
received free maize shirts with
"Team One" inscribed on it. By
the end of the game, there were
plenty of shirts to be had. It's
going to be a process, but as the
team gets better and the culture
gets set, the fans will come.
"These kind of games,
although really tough in the
moment because we're incredi-
bly competitive, you have to step
back and recognize what we're

going to build here." Ulehla said.
"My administrators remind me
this isn't a sprint, it's a mara-
thon. To me, maybe a marathon
is maybe a little too long, I'm
going to just go on a run, but it
takes time to build it the right
way. But it will happen, and it
will be Michigan worthy."
Right now, it's just a coach
and 27 freshmen tryingto start
something from nothing. As she
leaves, Ulehla looks back over the
field and yells to the one remain-
ing person in the building, "Baby
steps, right? Baby steps."
Ulehla hits the cold Ann
Arbor air with a smile. In the
moment its unpleasant, but
she's excited for what's to come.
Cook can be reached at
evcook@umich.edu and on
Twitter @everettcook

Wolverines secure fourth win of season on the road

By MINH DOAN over Bellarmine.
Daily Sports Writer Just 15 seconds after a
Knights timeout in overtime,
Brad Lott had been solid freshman midfielder Mikie
for Michigan all day, having Schlosser found himself open
won 82.6 percent of draws in just inside the attack zone.
regulation. Schlosser ripped a shot off that
But MICHIGAN 11 beat the Bellarmine goalie,
there was BELLARMINE 10 sending Michigan into a frenzy
no faceoff as it earned its first Eastern Col-
more lege Athletic Conference win in
important than the opening program history.
overtime draw. The sophomore "Schlosser had the ball and
faceoff man won the draw and rolled back, and usually the
gave the Wolverines possession team slides over in that situation
of the ball in the sudden death and they didn't," said Michigan
period, which was perhaps the coach John Paul. "So when he
deciding factor in the Michigan rolled back, he was in a good
men's lacrosse team's 11-10 win position to shoot the ball, and he

buried it."
While the game eventually
became a nail biter, it seemed
that the Wolverines (1-0 ECAC,
4-4 overall) would run away
with the game early on.
The scoring started with a
memorable play by sophomore
defensive midfielder Josh
Stauffer, who ran the full length
of the field before tallying his
first-ever collegiate goal, and
the only goal of the first quarter.
Sophomore midfielder Mike
Hernandez and junior attacker
Will Meter then notched tallies
early in the second quarter to
push the lead to three.
But Paul reminded the team of

what happened last time the two Knights had a three-goal run of
programs met - the Wolverines their own as Mitchell added two
got out to a 3-0 lead but ended more goals, putting Bellarmine
up losing the game, 12-6. (0-2, 4-2) up by two early in the
"I knew Bellarmine was third quarter.
perfectly But Michi-
capable of gan came back
making some and tied the
runs," Paul "W e're deep on game at eight
said. "We ohgoing into the
anticipated offense this year. fourth quar-
the game to ter with goals
be close, and from three
an early run midfielders:
doesn't change that." fifth-year senior Thomas Paras,
Michigan kept its distance senior Doug Bryant and sopho-
on the scoreboard until the last more Kyle Jackson.
1:25 of the first half. Bellarmine The fourth quarter was more
attacker Tucker Ciessau - the of the same, as the two teams
Knights' leadingscorer - tallied traded two goals, sending the
his first of the day and attacker game to overtime.
Chad Mitchell scored with just Michigan saw goal scoring
nine second left in the half to cut from 10 different players, and
the lead to one. Paras was the only Wolverine to
Bellarmine's scoring didn't have a multi-goal game.
cool down after halftime. The "We're deep on offense this

year," Paras said. "That will play
in our favor for a lot of these
games where there are tough
matchups, and we're going to
need a lot of players to put the
ball in the back of the net."
But to get the scoring going in
the extra period, Michigan had
to win the faceoff battle, and
Lott did just that.
After two poor games last
week, Lott went 21-for-24 and
was perfect in the first half.
With just five teams and four
total ECAC games, every match-
up holds immense importance
with such a short conference
schedule. With one win, the Wol-
verines currently sit tied for first.
"Everyone picked us to be last
in the conference, so this is big
for us," Paul said. "But we have
to put in some more work to
do to make it to the conference
tournament at the end of the
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