ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE
Saturday, Aug. 30 -- at No. 2 North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.), 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, Aug. 31 -- vs. No. 11 Wake Forest (Chapel Hill, N.C.), 2 p.m.
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Meet the Wolverine Freshmen
The No. 17-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (0-0) will open its 42nd season of intercollegiate competition this weekend at the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Wolverines will open the tournament on Saturday (Aug. 30) against No. 2 North Carolina (0-0), the tournament host, at 11:30 a.m. before wrapping up on Sunday (Aug. 31) against No. 11 Wake Forest (0-0) at 2 p.m.
Now in its 13th season, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge has proven to be the premiere early-season field hockey tournament on the collegiate slate. All four participating schools -- U-M, Iowa, North Carolina and Wake Forest -- have combined to win 37 conference titles and 21 national championships.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
North Carolina -- The Tar Heels return 16 letterwinners, including two All-Americans, from last year's squad that went 18-6 and reached the NCAA final four for the fifth straight season. Among their returning players are last season's leading scorer, Nina Notman, All-Americans Emily Wold and Charlotte Craddock, who rounded out UNC's top three point leaders, and starting goalkeeper Sassi Ammer, who a .747 save percentage and 1.55 goals-against average in 2013. North Carolina owns an 18-3 advantage in the all-time series against Michigan, including a 7-2 decision in last season's meeting between the programs.
Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons return 17 letterwinners, including nine starters, from last season's team that compiled a 12-9 record and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals -- Wake Forest's first trip to the NCAA Tournament in three seasons. Wake brings back two of its top five goal scorers from 2013 in Anna Kozniuk and Jess Newak, while returning goalkeeper Valerie Dahmen returns posted a .720 save percentage and 2.04 goals-against average last year. Wake Forest owns a 15-3 advantage in the all-time series against Michigan, earning a 2-1 decision in last season's meeting.
Michigan owns an all-time record of 19-21-1 in season openers.
The Wolverines welcome four freshmen to the 2014 squad -- two American players and two Europeans. Morgan Malone and Katie Trombetta combined for four NFHCA All-America honors and seven all-state citations. Sam Swenson most recently played goalkeeper for the English Junior National Team, while Veerle Lubbers is coming off three years at the highest national level of Dutch club play.
Michigan earned the No. 17 ranking in the 2014 NFHCA Preseason Poll, released Aug. 26, and list fifth among Big Ten teams. The Wolverines will face nine teams featured in the top 20 preseason poll this season, most notably No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 North Carolina.
With the finishing touches being added to its newly renovated Ocker Field, Michigan spent its 2014 preseason at the USA Field Hockey National Training Center in nearby Virginia Beach, Va. The training center, part of the larger Virginia Beach Sportsplex, features a pair of turf fields which have hosted numerous national and international competitions since its 2001 opening. It is considered among the finest field hockey complexes in the country.
The Wolverines played Old Dominion to a 1-1 draw in their preseason scrimmage last Thursday (Aug. 21) in Norfolk, Va. Sophomore Courtney Enge scored a tip goal in the first half, while junior/sophomore goalkeeper Chris Lueb earned eight saves in net. [ Full Recap ]
Head coach Marcia Pankratz enters the season with a 211-98 career record. She became the 32nd NCAA Division I coach to reach 200 career wins with U-M's win at Maine last season. Among current active coaches, Pankratz ranks 17th in total wins and ninth in career winning percentage (.683).
2013 SEASON RECAP
Michigan compiled a 12-8 record last season, including a 4-2 Big Ten mark to finish third in the final league standings. But despite a strong second half of the season, featuring wins in seven of their final 10 games, the Wolverines fell just short of making the 2013 NCAA Tournament, snapping a stretch of three straight appearances.
Rachael Mack, who wrapped her career with U-M records in goals (73) and points (166), was named to the Longstreth/NFHCA All-America first team, becoming the first four-time All-American in program history, as well as the Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. Like Mack, Ainsley McCallister was named to the All-Big Ten first team, while Lauren Thomas earned second team honors. The trio also garnered NFHCA All-West Region accolades, with Mack earning the West Regional Player of the Year award.
Saturday, Sept. 6 -- vs. William & Mary (Phyllis Ocker Field), 1 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 7 -- vs. Central Michigan (Phyllis Ocker Field), 2 p.m.
Contact: Leah Howard