Week #1: U-M to Hold ACC/Big Ten Challenge to Open 2011 Season

Aug. 23, 2011

Saturday, Aug. 27 -- U-M vs. No. 2 North Carolina, Noon
Gametracker | Promotions: Poster Giveaway, Back to School Bash I
Sunday, Aug. 28 -- U-M vs. No. 11 Wake Forest, Noon
Gametracker | Promotions: Back to School Bash I, Camper Reunion

The No. 9-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (0-0) opens its 39th season with a bang this weekend as the Maize and Blue hosts the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Phyllis Ocker Field. The Wolverines open the 2011 season with a matchup against No. 2 North Carolina this Saturday (Aug. 27) at noon. That same day, Iowa will face No. 11 Wake Forest at 2:30 p.m. Then on Sunday (Aug. 28), Michigan hosts Wake Forest at noon, with Iowa playing North Carolina at 2:30 p.m.

Michigan hosts the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the third time in the event's history. Michigan hosted the same three teams in both 2003 and 2007. It is also the 10th straight year the Maize and Blue open the schedule with North Carolina and Wake Forest. The four teams have combined to win 35 conference titles and 21 national championships.


Michigan Ranked Ninth in Preseason Poll -- Michigan is ranked ninth in the 2011 Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I preseason poll, announced Aug. 23. The Wolverines earned 527 points in the poll. Maryland earned the top spot in the preseason poll with 966 points and 32 first-place votes. It was followed by Saturday's opponent North Carolina, who had 939 points and 14 first-place votes. Virginia, Connecticut and Syracuse round out the top five. Michigan is one of four Big Ten teams in the top 20, joining Ohio State (No. 6), Penn State (No. 8) and Michigan State (No. 14). Michigan also plays eight teams ranked in the preseason poll in 2011.

Who's Back -- The Wolverines return six starters and 12 letterwinners from last year's team that was the Big Ten regular-season co-champion, the Big Ten Tournament champion and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The U-M defense returns senior backs Jess Allen (Gibbsboro, N.J./Eastern Regional) and Hannah Dawson (Berlin, N.J./Eastern Regional) and redshirt senior back Eileen Brandes (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth). All three players started all 22 games for the Maize and Blue last year. Both goalkeepers from 2010 return in redshirt senior Christi Barwick (San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines) and redshirt sophomore Haley Jones (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer). Up front, sophomore Rachael Mack (Bromsgrove, England/Bromsgrove School) returns after being named the Big Ten Tournament Most Valuable Player. Senior Bryn Bain (Berlin, N.J./Eastern Regional) leads the Wolverine midfield in 2011 after scoring three goals and collecting 10 points last season.

Oh Captain, My Captain -- Captaining the Wolverines in 2011 will be senior Eileen Brandes (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) and senior Jess Allen (Gibbsboro, N.J./Eastern Regional). The duo have combined to play in 105 career games for U-M while scoring six goals and seven assists from the backfield. [ Release ]

Mack Attack! -- Sophomore Rachael Mack (Bromsgrove, England/Bromsgrove School) returns to the field after a stellar freshman season. Mack led U-M with 16 goals, including four game-winning tallies and 36 points in 2010. She was named the Big Ten Tournament's Most Valuable Player after scoring the game-winning goal in the championship game against Ohio State and netting two goals in the semifinal against Penn State. Mack became just the second freshman in school history to earn All-America honors as she was named to the third team. She also was named to the All-Big Ten second team and earned NFHCA West Region first team honors.

An Eastern Regional Reunion at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge -- Seniors Bryn Bain (Berlin, N.J./Eastern Regional), Hannah Dawson (Berlin, N.J./Eastern Regional) and Jess Allen (Gibbsboro, N.J./Eastern Regional) will have company from their high school at this week's ACC/Big Ten Challenge. North Carolina's Meghan and Melanie Dawson (Hannah's sisters) both went to Eastern Regional, while Iowa features Eastern Regional graduates Corinne Allen (Jess' sister), Brittany Evangelisti, Geena Lesiak and Kelsey Mitchell.

Weather Cancels MSU Exhibition -- The exhibition game between Michigan and Michigan State was cancelled due to severe weather in East Lansing. The two teams played 19:22 before they were forced off the field with lightning in the area. After a half-hour wait, the exhibition was cancelled. Sophomores Rachael Mack (Bromsgrove, England/Bromsgrove School) and Michelle Roberts (Pocomoke, Md./Pocomoke) had a goal and an assist apiece in a 2-0 win over the Spartans in a makeup scrimmage played Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 23).

National Championship Reunion Set -- The 2001 national championship team will be honored Saturday, Oct. 1, at halftime of the Iowa game. The game against the Hawkeyes will start at 10 a.m. This is the 10-year anniversary of the team that defeated Maryland 2-0 to win the first NCAA national title in the history of U-M women's athletics. The 2001 team also will be recognized at the football game against Minnesota the same afternoon and will be part of the alumnae game Sunday, Oct. 2, at 10 a.m.

Quick Hits -- Michigan will play North Carolina again on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. ... The Wolverines welcome seven newcomers to the squad for 2011. As many as nine players can see their first action in a Michigan uniform at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge ... The Wolverines have at least two games that will be televised on the Big Ten Network. U-M's game at Ohio State set for Friday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. will be shown on Sunday, Sept. 25, at noon. The Michigan State game on Friday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. can be seen on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. Michigan has a chance at a wildcard TV game Oct. 30 and BTN will show the semifinals and championship game of the Big Ten Tournament.

U-M All-Time in Season Openers -- 19-18-1
U-M All-Time in Home Openers -- 23-11-3
U-M All-Time vs. North Carolina --
U-M All-Time vs. Wake Forest -- 3-13
U-M All-Time vs. the ACC --12-40
U-M All-Time at Ocker Field -- 114-40

Saturday, Sept. 3, Noon -- at Temple (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Sunday, Sept. 4, 1 p.m. -- at Maryland (College Park, Md.)

Contact: Kent Reichert (734) 763-4423