Oct. 2, 2012
Inside Michigan Field Hockey
Friday, Oct. 5 -- vs. No. 9 Northwestern (Phyllis Ocker Field), 4 p.m.
The No. 15-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (7-4, 0-1 Big Ten) will resume Big Ten Conference play on Friday (Oct. 5), hosting No. 9 Northwestern (10-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at 4 p.m. at Phyllis Ocker Field, where the Wolverines boast a perfect 5-0 record this season.
While U-M trails in the all-time series against Northwestern, 28-22, Michigan boasts a 20-game winning streak against the Wildcats, dating back to the 1997 season. The Wolverines used overtime to claim each of the last two meetings, including a 3-2 double-overtime triumph last season in Evanston.
Michigan is 5-0 in games at Ocker Field this season, outscoring its opposition, 35-13. Last year, the Wolverines went 8-2 at home. Michigan is 126-42 record at its home facility since its 1995 inauguration.
With her goal against Pacific (Sept. 28), junior Rachael Mack upped her career goal total to 44 and moved to fifth among Michigan's all-time leaders in the category, where she is tied with Molly Powers (1999-2002). Mack also extended her scoring streak to seven straight games, boasting 11 goals over the stretch. Adding two assists, she has registered a point in each of the last nine games.
Junior/sophomore Leslie Smith successfully converted on a penalty stroke late against Pacific (Sept. 28) to improve to 3-for-3 on stroke opportunities this season. She also scored another, unofficially, in U-M's preseason exhibition contest against Michigan State.
Twelve different Wolverine players have scored this season, including seven who have registered their first collegiate goal, most recently freshman Jaime Dean, who notched a second-half marker against Pacific (Sept. 28). Senior Liesl Morris, junior/sophomore Sammy Gray, sophomore/freshman Lauren Kent and freshmen Aisling Naughton, Shannon Scavelli and Lauren Thomas have also scored their first collegiate goals this season.
Freshman Aisling Naughton scored a goal in each half vs. Pacific (Sept. 28) to earn the first multi-goal effort of her collegiate career. Junior Rachael Mack owns three multi-goal games this season, while junior/sophomore Leslie Smith and sophomore Axelle Wouters have posted one apiece. Mack and Smith have both recorded a hat trick this season.
Senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones posted a career-best 14 saves, including nine in the second half, in the Wolverines' 4-3 loss at No. 6 Penn State (Sept. 23). Jones, who entered the 2012 season with a personal single-game standard of eight saves, has surpassed 10 saves in three games this season. Her previous best was 11 saves, which she recorded in back-to-back games against Albany and Connecticut Sept. 7-8.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Q: After falling to Penn State in your Big Ten opener but making significant improvements over the course of that game, do you think the team is more prepared for the rest of the Big Ten schedule?
A: Penn State was an eye-opener for the underclassmen. We had seven freshmen starting that game. We definitely started back on our heels a little bit, and we kind of let them run through us and play their game. But then we stepped up and started to play our game. The Big Ten is a rough-and-tough style of play. It's a lot different than the ACC and some of the other schools we faced early on this season. You have to change your mind set. Now that everyone has a taste of Big Ten play, we all know what to expect and we're a lot more mentally prepared for the rest of these conference games.
Q: With 11 true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen on the team, the newcomers have needed to step up and contribute quickly. How impressed have you been with them so far?
A: I am so impressed with all of them. They came in and were a little quiet at first, but over time they've gotten more and more talkative and comfortable. They are such interesting, fun people to be around, and they are all fitting into the family very well. I don't know what their expectations were for themselves on the field, but whatever they were, they're exceeding them. I've been so proud of them.
Q: Several of the veteran players have also stepped up and taken advantage of great playing time and opportunities. How nice has it been to see so many different players contributing this season?
A: Marcia keeps saying, "There are no freshmen on this team." Everyone needs to act older and step up. I think everyone has done a really good job with that. We're all really supportive of each other. We will take our goals where we can get them. If a defender can score, then great for them. It's really nice that we're not relying on one person. We know that anyone on the team can score goals, make saves and be a playmaker. It's a huge confidence builder to contribute like that. When more people on the team have a lot of confidence, it just makes our team that much better.
Q: You have scored three goals this season on penalty strokes; do you like being in that kind of high-pressure one-on-one situation?
A: I actually love those types of situations. When we practice overtime, it's my favorite thing to do -- ever since high school. You get this whole new wind of energy in overtime. I guess I love being put in those high-pressure situations, especially when I excel for the team. I kind of got thrown into it in the exhibition against Michigan State. So, after that, I guess I kind of earned my spot.
Q: How are you enjoying your elevated role this season?
A: I redshirted my freshman year, and as a redshirt, I think inevitably you don't always feel as appreciated. But now I feel like I'm really growing as a player; I'm contributing more and I just feel more needed. I love it when the freshmen come up to me to ask a question. I like knowing that I'm there to help the team and my teammates in any way I can.
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan kicked off its current four-game homestand in dominant fashion last Friday (Sept. 28), using scoring spurts in each half to cruise to a 7-1 decision against Pacific at Ocker Field. Six different Wolverine players scored goals, including freshman Aisling Naughton, who tallied two markers for her first collegiate multi-goal effort. Junior Michelle Roberts notched a goal and two assists, while junior Rachael Mack posted a goal and one assists and freshman Taryn Mark posted two helpers. [ Full Recap ]
Friday, Oct. 12 -- vs. Michigan State (Phyllis Ocker Field), 3 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 14 -- vs. Ohio State (Phyllis Ocker Field), 1 p.m.