Sep 3, 2013
ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE (Tournament Page)
Saturday, Sept. 7 -- vs. No. 1 North Carolina (Iowa City, Iowa), 2 p.m. CDT
Sunday, Sept. 8 -- vs. No. 18 Wake Forest (Iowa City, Iowa), 2 p.m. CDT
The No. 9-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (1-1) will head to Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend for the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Wolverines open the tournament on Sunday (Sept. 7) against No. 1 North Carolina (2-0) before wrapping up on Sunday (Sept. 8) against No. 18 Wake Forest (1-0). Both games are slated for 2 p.m. CDT starts at Iowa's Grant Field.
Now in its 12th season, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge has proven to be the premier early-season field hockey tournament on the collegiate slate. Three of the four participating schools -- U-M, Iowa and North Carolina -- competed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, with the Tar Heels advancing to the championship game for the second straight season. The four teams have combined to win 37 conference titles and 21 national championships.
Head coach Marcia Pankratz earned her 200th career win with the Wolverines' 4-2 decision at Maine (Sept. 1). She improved to 200-91 in her career, becoming the 32nd NCAA Division I coach to reach 200 career wins. Among current active coaches, Pankratz ranks 18th in total wins and ninth in career winning percentage (.687).
Senior captain Rachael Mack, who now holds a three-match goal-scoring streak dating back to last season, scored three goals over U-M's opening weekend, including two against host Maine, to inch closer to the Wolverines' school record for career goals. With 55 over her four seasons, Mack is nine goals shy of second place on U-M's all-time leaderboard and 13 shy of record holder April Fronzoni (68. 2000-03).
Sophomore Lauren Thomas netted her third career game-winning goal vs. Maine, scoring on the penalty corner at the game's 55:58 mark. Thomas scored five goals last year in her rookie campaign, including four in the last eight games of the season.
As the insert on the Wolverines' corner unit, senior/junior Leslie Smith posted two assists in each of Michigan's weekend games. She led U-M with 12 assists last year, sharing the top spot with Liesl Morris.
Three of Michigan's five weekend goals came on penalty-corner opportunities. U-M outcornered its opposition, 16-6, holding Maine without a single corner opportunity. It was the first time a Wolverine opponent failed to draw a corner since Michigan State on Oct. 21, 2011.
The Wolverines welcome nine newcomers to the 2013 squad -- eight freshmen and a grad-student transfer. The rookie class combined for four NFHCA All-Region citations and five all-state accolades during their prep careers, while Morgan Dever, Allie Sardo and Eliza Stein earned Futures Elite selection. Michigan's newcomers also include a pair of European players -- freshman Sina Lampe and graduate student Alice Brown, who played three seasons with England's University of Birmingham.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
North Carolina -- The Tarheels enter the weekend with a 2-0 record after opening 2013 play with road victories over Lock Haven (2-1, Aug. 30) and Villanova (1-0, Sept. 1). They return 12 letterwinners, including two All-Americans, from last year's squad that went 23-2 and claimed second at the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore Casey Di Nardo is UNC's early scoring leader with three goals over the opening weekend, while newcomers Nina Notman and Janne Grove boast two goals apiece. All three Tarheel goalkeepers earned playing time last weekend; junior Sammi Ammer appeared in both games, posting a 1.07 goals-against average and .500 save percentage. North Carolina owns a 17-3 advantage in the all-time series against Michigan, including a 5-1 decision in last season's meeting between the programs.
Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons carry a 1-0 season mark into the weekend after edging, Miami (Ohio), 3-2, at home last Friday (Aug. 30). Wake Forest posted a 9-11 record in 2012 -- the program's first losing record in 15 seasons -- but return 13 letterwinners, including its top-two leading scorers. Senior Kara Walkley netted two of WF's three goals against Miami, while sophomore goalkeeper Valerie Dahmen posted three saves in the Demon Deacon cage. Wake Forest owns a 14-3 advantage in the all-time series against Michigan, earning a 2-1 decision in last season's meeting.
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan split its opening-weekend games in Orono, Maine, last weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 1), falling to No. 14 Massachusetts, 3-2, before surging past host Maine, 4-2, the following day. The Wolverines sacrificed a halftime lead against UMass, giving up two goals in the first five minutes the second half, but scored twice in the final 15 minutes to claim their first win of the season. Senior Rachael Mack scored three goals on the weekend, including two vs. Maine, while sophomore Lauren Thomas netted the game-winner against the Black Bears. Fifth-year senior Haley Jones posted eight saves through two games. [ Recaps: UMass | Maine ]
Saturday, Sept. 14 -- vs. Louisville (Phyllis Ocker Field), 1 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 15 -- vs. UC Davis (Phyllis Ocker Field), 1 p.m.