This article was originally published on Ultiworld
The weekend really began for Michigan when they willed their way to an upset victory over the pool one seed UNC-Wilmington in the third round on Saturday. Michigan benefited from outstanding on-field play and leadership from their three captains: Yonatan Rafael, Sam Greenwood, and Eli Leonard.
Big plays from Greenwood and Rafael were highlights for Michigan throughout the weekend, with Leonard constantly causing defenses trouble from the handler spot. All three captains agreed that their rookies contributed handily to the upset of UNC-Wilmington.
The win on Saturday earned magnUM a bye into quarters, and bumped UNC-W into a tough matchup with a hungry Northern Iowa in pre-quarters.
Sunday’s first matchup for Michigan wasn’t pretty at first.
Appalachian State had been frustrating teams all weekend with a tall zone, and MagnUM fell behind early as the Nomads zone generated a quick 4-1 lead. Michigan would again rely heavily on the captains — particularly Greenwood — all of whom made contributions on both sides of the disc as the tide started to turn. Michigan tied first at 5-5 and then rattled off two more breaks to take half at 8-6. As Sunday afternoon approached, Michigan’s abundance of speed took over in the second half, and a thinner, tired App State team fell easily, 15-8.
Despite their exit against Harvard in semis, look for Michigan to remain a dominant regional competitor, with quick handler movement, dominant physical defense, and players who know how to use their bodies in the air.
A team that last year lacked the mentality to stay positive and aggressive in games has clearly worked out some of those issues and is well above where they were last year at this time.
““We’re not taking things as big games. We’re getting up for every game and focusing on our toughness,” said Leonard. “[Toughness] is something that we’ve had trouble with in the past couple years.”
With a strong weekend behind them, they may have done enough to put themselves in a good position for a top 20 spot in the USAU rankings.