Sept. 18, 2013
Junior/sophomore Mackenzie Ellis paid her dues to reach her current starting role in the Michigan backfield, redshirting her rookie season and appearing in only eight games last year. She has started all six games this season, most recently contributing to a Wolverine defensive effort that only allowed one goal through a pair of home victories last weekend -- U-M's first appearance at Ocker Field this season.
With Michigan preparing to hit the road for another weekend away from Ann Arbor -- its fourth road trip in five weeks of play -- Ellis took time before practice to talk about her journey to a starting role, U-M's home sweep and the closeness of the 2013 squad.
Q: After redshirting as freshman and playing only sparingly last season, you have started all six games so far this season. How have you seen your college career evolve?
A: It has felt like a long, tough road and a lot of hard work, but it's definitely all paid off. It was tough redshirting my freshman year, going from playing all the time in high school. College obviously is a much harder level of play. Last year was a growing experience, playing and gaining that game experience. This year, I have finally broken into the starting lineup, which is rewarding -- to feel like you have greater influence on the team and outcome of the games.
Q: How was last weekend's home sweep as a confidence builder for the team?
A: Finally being home this last weekend was huge for us, playing on our own field and not worrying about traveling. I think we're starting to realize that how everyone works together and how we need to play to be able to beat other teams -- and not feel like we're coming from behind all the time. This weekend was definitely a good start and hopefully indicative of how the rest of the season is going to be.
Q: Do you feel like everyone is starting to click with each other?
A: We're starting to recognize where everyone likes the ball, where they pass the ball, where they like to defend and what not. We're finally starting to work more as a team and a unit rather than individuals.
Q: Are you personally growing more confident with each game?
A: Yeah, definitely. Every game is a new experience as we play different teams each weekend. I feel like I'm learning and growing every single game, every weekend and every practice.
Q: Several people have commented on the great closeness of this team, especially this early in the season. Do you think all these road trips have played a role in that?
A: Being together for an entire weekend -- without much escape from each other -- really forces you to bond with your teammates. We have different roommates every road trip, so you learn a lot about somebody new every weekend. I think being friends off the field really helps a lot with growing a team and working together on the field. We've got great team chemistry, and I think we really all trust each other. That's important both on the field and off.
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