Feb. 19, 2014
TEAM ONE: GAME ONE
Under first-year head coach Jennifer Ulehla, the University of Michigan women's lacrosse team (0-0) will begin its first season as a varsity program when it takes on Villanova on Saturday (Feb. 22) at noon in Villanova Stadium. It marks the season-opening contest for the Wolverines and Wildcats. Admission to the game is free.
Coach Ulehla on preparing to play the program's first game ... "I have the chills thinking about it. It's hard to believe it's here -- I just looked at our countdown clock and there's only three days and some-odd house to go. We've put a lot of hours and a lot of hard work into this. I can't even tell you, from the moment I took this job, how much I've been looking forward to this time -- to be able to put together a group of women who are ready to get out there and put the Block M on their chest and compete and feel that Michigan pride. That is what I'm looking forward to and I can't wait for our team to experience that together."
A Historical Homecoming
The program's first game will be extra special for three members of Team One who grew up within a half-hour radius of Villanova's campus, including Villanova, Pa., native Brooke Pancoast (Villanova, Pa./Radnor). Kelly Kubach (Philadelphia, Pa./William Penn Charter) and Sophie duPhily (Chadds Ford, Pa./Kennett) also grew up in the Greater Philadelphia area. Assistant coach Jen Valore is a native of Moorestown, N.J., which is less than an hour from Villanova, just across the Delaware River.
Women's Lax 101
There are currently 103 NCAA Division I women's lacrosse programs across the country that compete in 13 different conferences. Michigan is a member of the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC), along with Northwestern, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State, Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt. Northwestern, Florida and Penn State are each currently ranked in the top 10 nationally. Starting in the 2015 season, Michigan will compete in the newly formed Big Ten Women's Lacrosse Conference (Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland). [ IWLCA Division I Poll ]
Meet the Coaching Staff
Jennifer Ulehla was announced as Michigan's first head coach in program history on Sept. 8, 2011. She signed the program's first recruiting class -- U-M's current team -- on Nov. 21, 2012, and has been working to build a championship culture within her program from day one.
Prior to coming to Ann Arbor, Ulehla gained experience in the development of a new program as an assistant coach at Florida from January 2008-June 2010. Taking a hiatus from collegiate lacrosse, Ulehla worked as an assistant coach with the U.S. National Elite Team from 2006-2009. Previous collegiate head coaching stops for Ulehla also include Temple (2004-06) and James Madison (1994-2002). She was inducted into the James Madison University Athletics Hall of Fame on Nov. 15, 2013, for her contributions to the program.
As a player, Ulehla was a two-time All-American at Maryland (1990-91) and also competed on the U.S. National Lacrosse team from 1990-95.
Assistant coach Jen Valore joined Ulehla's staff on Dec. 23, 2012, and is working primarily with the Wolverine defense. Valore was a four-year starter on defense for Ulehla at James Madison from 1997-2000. She captained the Dukes squad that reached the Final Four and was named South Jersey Collegiate Defender of the Year in 2000. Valore was also an assistant under Ulehla at Temple from 2004-06.
Assistant coach Casey Ancarrow was the latest addition to U-M's staff (July 1, 2013) and is the Wolverines' offensive specialist. She recently completed a standout career at James Madison, where she was a three-time IWLCA All-America third team selection and two-time Tewaaraton Award nominee. In addition to her career at JMU, Ancarrow was also a member of the U.S. Women's National Team from 2010-12.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tess Korten will look to use her speed and good field vision to find multiple ways to score for the Wolverines.
In high school, Korten led North Shore (Glen Head, N.Y.) to back-to-back Nassau County titles (2011-12), combining for 92 goals and 49 assists during those two seasons.
Coach Ancarrow on Tess Korten ... "Tess has the stick skills of an upperclassmen. She reads the defense extremely well and has a good field sense, which helps her avoid or break double teams. She has also worked really hard to find her most successful points of attack. We'll look for her to create scoring opportunities for us this season, by both scoring and assisting."
Lauran Oberlander will look to use her speed to create her own shot and create space between her defender in the eight meter to receive feeds from her teammates. Her quick release will allow her to score both assisted and unassisted for the Maize and Blue.
In high school, Oberlander was a two-time U.S. Lacrosse Academic All-American at Kent Place School (Westfield, N.J.), where she recorded 151 goals and 51 assists over four seasons on varsity.
Coach Ancarrow on Lauren Oberlander ... "Lauren's stick stills and ability to dodge defenders have improved a lot since the fall. She's very quick and is great at beating double teams and getting through two defenders sliding to her. Her ability to finish around the cage has also improved so we'll look for her contribute right away on the offensive end."
Anna Schueler is expected to control the midfield and contribute right away on both ends of the field for the Wolverines. She will be one of U-M's primary players taking the draw.
In high school, Schueler led Loyola Academy (Chicago, Ill.) to three straight Illinois state titles (2011-13), tallying a combined 112 goals in those three seasons. As a junior in 2012, she was named a U.S. Lacrosse All-America honorable mention selection.
Coach Ulehla on Anna Schueler ... "Anna is a difference maker. She's young and has a long way to go, but she is powerful, explosive, has a huge presence, and is going to continue to get better and better every day. She is a very special athlete."
Kim Coughlan will miss U-M's first game due to a foot injury, but at 5-9, she will be a force in the midfield upon her return. She is a high-energy competitor that will look to contribute on both ends of the field and will be key in U-M's midfield transition.
In high school, the All-Long Island selection helped Saint Anthony's (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) win three straight league titles and achieve a No. 3 national ranking by Lax Power in 2011 and 2012 and No. 4 ranking in 2013.
Coach Ulehla on Kim Coughlan ... "Kim is injured at the moment, but is someone who we expect to be very involved in our midfield. We'll continue to work with her on being a true middy -- understanding the defensive side of the game, as well as the offensive side of it. She has a big presence and can be very effective for us in the midfield transition, and on both ends of the field."
Madeline Dion is one of Michigan's most athletic and fit players. Her speed will allow her to create offensive opportunities for the Wolverines and conversely help mark some of the opponent's top attackers on the defensive end.
While in high school at Annapolis (Annapolis, Md.), Dion was named to the Washington Post's Top 15 Players to Watch List and was also ranked second in the county in points (72) as a junior.
Coach Ulehla on Madeline Dion ... "Madeline is a player who has a tremendous amount of speed and athleticism. She's really coming around and is someone who we expect to be producing for us right away."
Kelly Kubach will look to use her ability as an on-ball defender and vocal leadership to anchor the Wolverine defense. She is an extremely smart player that will help the defense communicate and work as a unit.
In high school, Kubach was a four-year letterwinner at William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia, Pa.), where she was an All-Inter-Ac and Philly Lacrosse Showcase Fab Forty All-Star selection.
Coach Valore on Kelly Kubach ... "Kubach brings a lot of energy to the defense. She is a vocal leader and we're continuing to work with her on taking command of the defense and being that player that communicates with the rest of the defensive unit. She's a smart player and sees the field very well. She is also quick on the ball and quick out of the back with the ball."
Brooke Pancoast is one of the Wolverines' strongest and tallest defenders with the ability to get in passing lanes and cause turnovers. She will look to be a solid mark-up defender and use her strong field vision to direct Michigan's defensive unit.
Throughout her high school career at Radnor (Villanova, Pa.), Pancoast recorded 81 caused turnovers and 103 draw controls, while leading her team to the 2012 Central League title.
Coach Valore on Brooke Pancoast ... "Brooke is a really strong defender with good size, which gives her the ability to be a good mark-up defender. She has really developed since the fall and become a leader on defense, vocally and in her ability to understand how the defensive unit should work together. She has really been working on helping our other defenders see the vision that she has."
Allison Silber will earn the start in cage for the Wolverines. Her strong presence in the crease will be an asset to U-M's young defense, while her ability to clear the ball will be an important catalyst in Michigan's midfield transition.
Silber was a four-time national and state champion at McDonogh High School (Phoenix, Md.), going a combined 78-0 over her four-year career.
Coach Ulehla on Allison Silber ... "Allison has a great presence in the cage. We continue to work with her on adjusting to the collegiate game, but she's technically sound -- from her stick work to her ability to clear. We're working on her staying confident and poised, but she has the overall presence that we need in the cage. We know that she's going to grow a tremendous amount this year as we continue to work on her overall game."
Scouting the Opponent: Villanova
Saturday's contest will also mark the 2014 season opener for Villanova, which was picked to finish sixth in the eight-team Big East Conference. Third-year head coach Julie Young has guided the Wildcats to a 10-22 record over the past two seasons, including a 6-10 mark a year ago.
Junior Jessica Mucci, who led Nova in points (53) and assists (39) during the 2013 campaign, will return to lead its attack this season. Junior Chelsey Henderson will look to control the midfield this season after tallying 16 goals, 19 ground balls and 25 draw controls in 2013.
The majority of the Wildcats' experience will come from their defense, where senior defenders Amy Begay and Lauren Shockley will look to protect fellow senior goalie Julia Todd, who has played in 18 games in her career. Sophomore keeper Jaclyn Fraum could also see time in net for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats will be without their leading goal scorer from last season, junior attacker Jackie Froccaro (39 goals), who suffered an ACL injury in the offseason.
A Look Ahead
Following U-M's first-ever game at Villanova, the Wolverines will return to Ann Arbor to host Marquette in the programs home opener on Friday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m. inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse.
Michigan will head south during spring break (March 3-9) for a non-conference matchup with Jacksonville (March 5, 7 p.m.) before opening ALC play at Florida (March 8, 1 p.m.). U-M's first game at Michigan Stadium will feature an ALC matchup with Northwestern on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m.
In addition to going head to head with three ranked conference opponents -- No. 4 Northwestern (March 11), at No. 7 Florida (March 8) and at No. 8 Penn State (March 23), U-M will also play at No. 19 Navy on April 5.
The Wolverines will host its first-ever Pink Game to support the American Cancer Society on Saturday, April 12, when they welcome Cal to the Big House for a 1 p.m. matchup.
Tickets for the 2014 season are still available at the U-M ticket office or online at MGoBlue.com/tickets. For more information on Michigan women's lacrosse single-game tickets or season ticket packages, call the U-M Athletic Ticket Office at (734) 764-0247 or (866) 296-MTIX.
Friday, Feb. 28 -- Marquette (Oosterbaan Fieldhouse), 5 p.m.
Wednesday, March 5 -- at Jacksonville (Southern Oak Stadium), 7 p.m.