Oct. 23, 2012
The No. 14-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (11-5, 3-2 Big Ten) will close out the regular season with a pair of road contests this weekend, traveling to Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday (Oct. 26) to face No. 12 Iowa (12-4, 3-1 Big Ten) at 2 p.m. CDT before heading to Mount Pleasant, Mich., to take on Central Michigan (7-9) at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 28). The match against the Hawkeyes will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.
U-M trails in the all-time series against Iowa, 39-18, but has narrowed the margin with an 18-8 record against the Hawkeyes since 1997. U-M boasts a four-game winning streak in the series, posting two wins apiece in 2010 and 2011, including a 4-1 decision in the most-recent meeting at last year's Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan owns a 30-15-2 advantage in the all-time series against intrastate rival Central Michigan, dating back to the 1974 season. The Wolverines have won the last two meetings in the series, including a 5-0 shutout in last year's match at Ocker Field.
Michigan closed out the home portion of its 2012 schedule with an 8-1 record at Ocker Field, outscoring its opposition, 45-19. The Wolverines boast a stellar 130-43 record at its home facility since its 1995 inauguration, including a stellar 25-5 mark over the last three seasons. Michigan also averaged 353 attendance over its nine home games to rank second in the Big Ten -- just 10 behind first-place Penn State.
After seeing her 10-game scoring streak halted at Indiana on Oct. 19, junior Rachael Mack started anew with two goals against Miami (Oct. 21). She tallied 15 goals and three assists over the stretch. Adding helpers against Delaware, Maine and the Hoosiers, Mack maintains a 14-game point streak, earning a point in all but U-M's first two games of the season.
Junior Rachael Mack upped her career goal total to 50, claiming third place among Michigan's all-time leaders in the category. She needs 14 to reach the second spot, currently held by Mary Callam (64, 1976-79). Three-time All-American April Fronzoni (2000-03) owns the school record with 68 goals.
With 17 goals and 41 points on the season, junior Rachael Mack ranks third among the Big Ten leaders in both statistical categories. Junior/sophomore Leslie Smith and senior Liesl Morris share the fifth spot with 10 assists apiece.
Junior/sophomore Sammy Gray recorded the first defensive save of her career during a late penalty-corner opportunity against Miami (Oct. 21). Michigan has seven defensive saves on the season, ranking second in the Big Ten with one in nearly every two games. Junior/sophomore Leslie Smith leads the team -- and lists second in the Big Ten -- with four.
The Wolverines honored their lone senior, Liesl Morris, prior to Sunday's game vs. Miami (Ohio). After entering the season with no career points, she has tallied one goal and 10 assists while starting all 16 Michigan games. She posted a pair of assists in U-M's 4-3 win at Indiana (Oct. 19).
Thomas and fellow freshman Aisling Naughton boast Michigan's two overtime goals this season -- against Albany on Sept. 7 and Michigan State on Oct. 12, respectively. The Wolverines are 2-0 in overtime this season and 9-1 since the 2010 season.
With 86 saves this season, senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones has nearly doubled her previous career high (44, 2010). She has posted double-digit saves in four games this season, including 14 against Penn State on Sept. 23 and owns a career-best .768 save percentage on the year. Her 86 saves rank second in the Big Ten.
Senior/junior Haley Jones made six saves in the Wolverine cage, including five during a late stretch of Miami penalty corners, to earn a 3-0 shutout against the RedHawks (Oct. 21). She owns three complete-game shutouts on the season and combined with sophomore/freshman Adrianna Crovo for a fourth. Three of U-M's four shutouts came at home this year. Jones boasts 10 shutouts in her collegiate career.
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 on Sept. 28.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
| Liesl Morris|
Q: It was your decision to keep Sunday's pregame Senior Day festivities pretty low-key. What was your thought process with that?
A: Since it was only me, I decided that I didn't want to make Senior Day such an ordeal. If it had been a big group, it's understandable, but pulling out all the stops for just one individual seems a little ridiculous. I decided it was best to keep it just a little less distracting. These last few games are really big for us, so the fewer distractions, the better, especially for our young team. After the game, we all got together for a meal. They printed out a lot of photos of the team and me, gave me a bracelet and made a seven-minute video of interviews. It was fantastic.
Q: The team is carrying a four-game winning streak into this weekend. The Iowa game is an important one for the standings and tournament seedings; is it good to enter that game with a head of steam?
A: I feel like it is a good momentum but not an overconfident momentum. We are getting back on track with knowing what it takes to win. Each win over the past four games has been different. We've had a few battles, a few blowouts. Each one has provided good perspective. I feel like the girls really understand how important Iowa is and how good they are. It's going to be a good game.
Q: With so many freshmen and young players, the preseason expectation was that the team would gradually get better and better as the season wore on. Do you see that playing out?
A: I do. It's a much different feeling and way of coping when you earn your first starting role or get more playing time, which is what nearly the entire team has gone through this season. It's not a gradual incline; there's a few concave moments that you have to deal with and get out of -- with each other. It's definitely not a straight slope; it was dips in it, and that's normal. What's really important is that we're building each other up for the finale.
Q: The major focus for this team this season has been playing a complete 70-minute game. What does that take?
A: I think it takes that dive or that step-up or that key communication. It's just about those tiny aspects of the game and going 100 percent. You just need to go over the top on 1-2 plays to show your teammates that you're in it until the end. That show of emotion from the leaders on the team is really important for the younger players. When we do that, we play 70 minutes of hockey. We just need to keep dedicating ourselves to that goal.
Q: You have taken on an elevated role this season -- as a veteran leader, as a key player on the field. How are you enjoying your senior year?
A: If I could take a clip of this year and show it to my freshman self, she definitely wouldn't have seen this. It's been a great season, and I'm just so grateful that I have such a great team to be a part of. A team like this is rare -- our chemistry. Even though we might be very different personality-wise, on the field, we push each other and excel together. You wouldn't think a mold this tight happens when half the team is just in their first year. For me, that's unbelievable.
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan extended its winning streak to four straight games with weekend decisions at Indiana (4-3, Oct. 19) and against Miami (3-0, Oct. 21). The Wolverines claimed a wild one in Bloomington, Ind., jumping out to an early first-half lead before responding to two Hoosier comebacks with a pair of second-half tallies. Freshman Lauren Thomas scored twice on the penalty corner and assisted as sophomore Axelle Wouters netted the game-winning goal at 52:03. U-M used a more even approach against Miami, scoring late in the first half and putting the game out of reach with goals early and late in the second. Junior Rachael Mack netted two goals and assisted on the third, while senior/junior Haley Jones earned six saves to earn U-M's fourth shutout win of the season. [ Recaps: Indiana | Miami (Ohio) ]
Thu-Sun., Nov. 1-4 -- at Big Ten Tournament (Iowa City, Iowa)