Nov. 7, 2012
Saturday, Nov. 10 -- vs. No. 8 Old Dominion - NCAA Tournament first round (Chapel Hill, N.C.), 2 p.m. [ Live Stats | NCAA Bracket ]
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2012 NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST/SECOND ROUNDS
Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 10-11
Francis E. Henry Stadium (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Saturday, Nov. 10
Game 1 -- No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Stanford, 11 a.m.
Game 2 -- No. 8 Old Dominion vs. No. 9 Michigan, 2 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 11
Game 3 -- Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.
The No. 9-ranked University of Michigan field hockey team (15-6) visits Chapel Hill, N.C., and the campus of the University of North Carolina for the third straight year for the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds. The Wolverines face No. 8 Old Dominion (14-5) this Saturday (Nov. 10) at 2 p.m. If Michigan defeats the Monarchs, it will face either No. 1-ranked and top-seeded North Carolina (20-1) or No. 11-ranked Stanford (16-6) on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 11) at 2 p.m.
The Wolverines are making their 11th overall and third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. U-M owns a 14-8 record in NCAA Tournament play and has advanced to the semifinals in three of its 10 appearances, playing in the national title game twice. In 2001, the Wolverines captured the first NCAA championship for a Michigan women's team in U-M athletics history.
U-M also faced ODU in the 2010 NCAA first round (L, 1-0).
Michigan has won five out of its last six NCAA first-round matches.
With 112 saves this season, senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones has nearly tripled 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 .794 save percentage on the year. She leads the Big Ten in save percentage and ranks second in total saves.
Michigan fell to Penn State, 2-0, in the Big Ten Tournament championship game last Sunday (Nov. 4). U-M has appeared in the Big Ten final 11 of the last 16 years, including each of the last three.
The Wolverines saw their eight-game winning streak halted with the loss in the Big Ten Tournament final. The win streak was the program's longest since claiming 11 in a row during the 2007 season.
Michigan placed four players on the All-Big Ten Conference teams as junior forward Rachael Mack earned unanimous All-Big Ten first team selection and junior/sophomore back Leslie Smith, freshman back Lauren Thomas and senior/junior goalkeeper Haley Jones were named to the second team.
Senior/junior Haley Jones posted back-to-back shutout wins in the Wolverines' opening two games of Big Ten Tournament play, earning eight saves against Ohio State and three in the semifinals against Indiana. The efforts extended her shutout streak to three in a row. Jones owns six complete-game shutouts on the season, including three in the last four games, and combined with sophomore/freshman Adrianna Crovo for a seventh. Jones boasts 13 shutouts in her collegiate career.
Junior Rachael Mack netted her career-best 18th goal of the season with a second-half marker against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Her previous best was 17, which she registered as a freshman (2010). She upped her career goal total to 51, claiming third place among Michigan's all-time leaders in the category. She needs 13 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.
Freshman Lauren Thomas boasted four goals over the Wolverines' last three weekends of 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.
Junior/sophomore Leslie Smith earned her fifth defensive save of the season in the Big Ten Tournament final against Penn State (Nov. 4). She leads the team and lists second in the Big Ten in the category. Michigan has eight defensive saves on the season, ranking third in the Big Ten with one in nearly every three games. Freshman Lauren Thomas owns two on the season, while junior/sophomore Sammy Gray has registered one.
The Wolverines honored their lone senior, Liesl Morris, prior to its final regular-season home game, vs. Miami (Ohio). After entering the season with no career points, she has tallied one goal and 12 assists while starting all 21 Michigan games.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Q: This is the third straight season going to North Carolina for the NCAA first/second round. Is there some comfort in going back to such a familiar site?
A: I think we're used to the field and just the overall atmosphere there. We'll get a lot of fans, because we travel pretty well and have a lot of parents who live around there. We're excited. We expected to make the tournament, and we expected to work hard all year to make it. We just want to do well.
Q: How is the team chemistry this year?
A: It's great. I love this team. We're fun. Everyone just wants the best out of everyone else and respects each other. If someone yells at you on the field, it's with good intentions. Everyone just wants to win for each other and especially for Liesl [Morris] since it's her last year. The personalities are great; everyone is friendly and nice. Nobody is all about themselves or really isolates from the team.
Q: You played North Carolina in the first weekend of the season as well as several other highly ranked teams, and the idea was always that it would prepare you for the end of the season. Do you think those tough early games are paying off now?
A: We had some really hard games to start the season, so we knew we needed to get to that level of play. It was a reality check and set the bar for us. From there, we really worked on executing in games, getting everyone experience since we're so young and trying to play a full 70 minutes. After getting a bunch of games under our belts, we knew what we needed to do. In a lot of ways, we just needed to focus on the basics, like receiving the ball, passing to where your teammate wants it, shot selection, breaking down steps on defense.
Q: Is there a lot of satisfaction in being one of only 16 teams still playing?
A: It's an honor being in the top 16. There are a lot of really good teams that didn't make the tournament. I think our end-of-the-season stretch was a great build up to the postseason. It's good momentum going forward. I think we have a lot of confidence. We have a lot of freshmen who don't really know what it's like or have any expectations, so I think we'll just go out there and play and have fun.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines posted a 2-1 mark en route to a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Tournament last weekend in Iowa City, Iowa. U-M earned back-to-back shutouts in its first two games, defeating Ohio State, 1-0, and Indiana, 3-0, before dropping a 2-0 decision against No. 4-ranked Penn State championship game. U-M was unable to overcome a two-goal deficit despite three saves from senior/junior goalie Haley Jones and outshooting and out-cornering the Nittany Lions. Jones and junior Rachael Mack were named a member of the Big Ten All-Tournament team. It was Michigan's 11th trip to the Big Ten Tournament final in program history.
Fri-Sun., Nov. 16-18 -- at NCAA Final Four (Norfolk, Va.)