Week #11: U-M to Begin Postseason at Big Ten Tournament
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MGOBLUE

Oct. 31, 2012

THIS WEEK
Thursday, Nov. 1 -- vs. Ohio State - Big Ten Tournament First Round (Iowa City, Iowa), 4 p.m. CDT [ Live Stats | Live Video | Tournament Central | Bracket ]

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2012 BIG TEN TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 1-4
Grant Field (Iowa City, Iowa)

Thursday, Nov. 1
Game 1 -- #4 Seed Iowa vs. #5 Seed Michigan State, 11 a.m. CDT
Game 2 -- #2 Seed Northwestern vs. #7 Seed Indiana, 1:30 p.m. CDT
Game 3 -- #3 Seed Michigan vs. #6 Seed Ohio State, 4 p.m. CDT

Friday, Nov. 2
Game 4 -- #1 Seed Penn State vs. Iowa/Michigan State winner, 1:30 p.m. CDT (TV: Big Ten Network)
Game 5 -- Northwestern/Indiana winner vs. Michigan/Ohio State winner, 4 p.m. CDT (TV: Big Ten Network)

Sunday, Nov. 4
Game 6 -- Semifinal #1 winner vs. Semifinal #2 winner, 1:30 p.m. CST (TV: Big Ten Network)

The No. 13-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (13-5) will start postseason play this week at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament at Grand Field in Iowa City, Iowa. The No. 3-seeded Wolverines will open play against No. 6-seeded Ohio State (10-8) in the first round at 4 p.m. CDT on Thursday (Nov. 1). That game will be streamed live via the MGoBlue.com All-Access player. Both semifinal matches and the championship game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.

WOLVERINE BITES

The Last Meeting
No. 18 Ohio State - Maize Out1
Michigan3
October 14, 2012
Ocker Field
Late Goals Propel Wolverines Over OSU
Rachael Mack scored the winning goal in the second half, while Aisling Naughton and Leslie Smith added markers to lead No. 16 Michigan past No. 18 Ohio State, 3-1.

• Michigan will look to reclaim the Big Ten Tournament title and capture its sixth in school history. The Wolverines won back to-back tournament crowns in 1999 and 2000 and again in 2004 and 2005 before most recently capturing the 2010 title. With five titles each, U-M and Penn State are tied for the most conference tournament titles since its inception in 1994. U-M has advanced to the Big Ten Tournament championship game in 10 of the last 15 seasons.

• The Big Ten will announce its award winners for the 2012 season on Thursday (Nov. 1) at its annual awards banquet. The Wolverines have won 17 individual awards since 1997 but have not claimed a player award since current assistant coach Lucia Belassi was named Offensive Player of the Year in 2007. At least one Wolverine has been picked for the All-Big Ten first team each year since 1995. Last season, Michigan had three players on the All-Big Ten first team -- Rachael Mack, Bryn Bain and Aline Fobe. Head coach Marcia Pankratz was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the fifth time in her career.

• The University of Iowa will serve as the host of the Big Ten Tournament for the third time since its inception in 1994. The Wolverines are 4-1 in conference tournament games in Iowa City, Iowa, claiming 1997 tournament runner-up honors before posting a perfect 3-0 mark to capture the 2005 tournament title as the No. 4 seed.

• The Wolverines enter the postseason with a six-game winning streak, stretching back to their 3-2 overtime win against Michigan State on Oct. 12. Michigan posted a six-game winning streak during the heart of the 2011 Big Ten season and won seven games in a row early in 2010.

• After starting the Big Ten season with a 0-2 record -- with losses against Penn State and Northwestern -- the Wolverines won their final four conference games to earn a share of second place in the regular-season standings.

• Senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones and freshman back Lauren Thomas netted the final Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week awards, respectively, in recognition of their play in the Wolverines' road victories in final regular-season weekend. Thomas is the second U-M newcomer to garner Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades this season, joining freshman Aisling Naughton, who twice earned the distinction.

• With 97 saves this season, senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones has more than doubled her previous career high (44, 2010). She has posted double-digit saves in five games this season, including 14 against Penn State on Sept. 23 and owns a career-best .782 save percentage on the year. She leads the Big Ten in save percentage and ranks second in total saves.

• Senior/junior Haley Jones earned one save -- on one shot on goal -- to earn a 1-0 shutout against the Central Michigan in the regular-season finale (Oct. 28). She owns four complete-game shutouts on the season, including two in the last three games, and combined with sophomore/freshman Adrianna Crovo for a fifth. Three of U-M's five shutouts came at home this year. Jones boasts 11 shutouts in her collegiate career.

• Freshman Lauren Thomas boasted three goals over the Wolverines' last two weekends of regular-season play. She posted a career-best two goals and assisted on sophomore Axelle Wouters' game-winner -- all off penalty-corner opportunities -- in Michigan's 4-3 win at Indiana on Oct. 19. Thomas also notched the Wolverines' first goal in their 2-1 upset against No. 12 Iowa (Oct. 26).

• 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.

• 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.

• This season, junior Rachael Mack has 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.

• Junior/sophomore Sammy Gray recorded the first defensive save of her career during a late penalty-corner opportunity against Miami on Oct. 21. Michigan has seven defensive saves on the season, ranking third in the Big Ten with one in nearly every three 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 the Oct. 21 game vs. Miami (Ohio). Morris is having a career year in her final season in Maize and Blue. After entering the season with no career points, she has tallied one goal and 11 assists while starting all 18 Michigan games. She posted an assist apiece in U-M's two recent weekend wins.

• 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.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Haley Jones
Senior/Junior
Goalkeeper
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Q: There was a lot riding on this last regular-season weekend, in particular that last conference game at Iowa. How big of weekend was that to get two wins?
A: There was a lot riding on that Iowa game -- for rankings and with the Big Ten Tournament coming up -- so we knew we needed to win that game. Iowa had a lot riding on it too; they were still competing for a Big Ten title. That game and that win were huge just for our mentality. We know we have the potential and the talent to go further this season. That's a good attitude to have going into the tournament.

Q: You were just named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, so how would you evaluate your own weekend?
A: My weekend was good. There are definitely pros and cons to seeing a lot of shots. I'm lucky that I have a really strong defense around me. It allows me to play a little more of my style, which is aggressive and coming out of the cage a little more -- maybe more than the coaches like. That's what I'm comfortable with, and this weekend, I was comfortable with the people I had in with me. So, I was able to have a good time and have fun. That is definitely when I play my best.

Q: This team is currently riding a six-game winning streak. When it started, you were just over .500 on the season. What do you think the turning point was?
A: After the Northwestern loss, which was right around the midpoint of the season, that was kind of the point where you either go downhill from there and everyone just gives up or you start to see the big picture and where you're going and everyone digs in and strives to reach that. We just started having fun, and we knew every game from that point on was going to be crucial -- for standings and for team morale. Losing isn't fun. We put a lot of emphasis into that rivalry weekend when we beat Michigan State and Ohio State. I think that weekend gave us the extra push we needed, and after that, we just picked it up.

Q: How big of a boost is to carry this momentum into the postseason?
A: We're getting to the point where if you lose, you're done. Right now, our focus is strictly on the Big Tens. We want to win the next three games. That means you get a title. Being fortunate enough to win titles each of the last two years, we know that's a good feeling. We know these games will be difficult on paper, but we know we have the ability to do it.

Q: One of the themes over this recent stretch has been the team's resiliency -- in reeling off six wins to end the regular season and within each of these games. What do you think leads to that team mindset and toughness?
A: I think we had and still have nothing to lose. We have 70 minutes to play and throw out everything we can. Everybody leaves it out on the field. We like to say in those halftime talks, "Just run your legs. Keep working hard." We practice hard, and if we're not doing it in games, we're really able to look at each other and push one another. That resiliency -- to be able to win even if you're not playing your best game -- that's a good trait to have as a team.

LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines extended their win streak to six straight games with a pair of road victories at Iowa (2-1, Oct. 26) and Central Michigan (1-0, Oct. 28) in the final weekend of the regular season. Michigan scored a goal in each half -- from freshman Lauren Thomas and sophomore Emy Guttman, respectively -- and held a potent Hawkeye offense at bay in its win in Iowa City. Senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones earned 10 saves in the U-M cage, including five late in the second after Guttman's game-winning marker at 39:18. Jones posted one save in a shutout effort against Central Michigan. Freshman Aisling Naughton scored the lone goal on a breakaway early in the first half. [ Recaps: Iowa | Central Michigan ]

UP NEXT
Tuesday, Nov. 6 -- NCAA Selection Show (NCAA.com), 8 p.m.