Nov. 6, 2012
The University of Michigan women's soccer team (14-5-2) returns to the NCAA Tournament this Saturday (Nov. 10), hosting Central Michigan (15-6-1) in a first-round match at 6 p.m. inside the U-M Soccer Stadium.
Tickets for Michigan's first-round match with Central Michigan can be purchased through the Michigan Athletics Ticket Office by calling (734) 764-0247 or logging on to www.MGoBlue.com/tickets. Prices will be $8 (reserved chairback), $7 (adult general admission and students) and $5 (youth/senior general admission).
Michigan received a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday (Nov. 5) for the 11th time in program history and second time in the last three years. It also hosts an NCAA match for the first time since 2002. The Wolverines are 9-9-1 all-time in the tournament, including a 6-3-1 mark in the first round.
Six players were named to the All-Big Ten teams last Wednesday (Oct. 31) at the Big Ten Tournament, headlined by fifth-year senior Haley Kopmeyer, who was named Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year. Kopmeyer was joined on the first team by junior Nkem Ezurike (forward), senior/junior Holly Hein (defense) and Shelina Zadorsky (defense). Junior Meghan Toohey was named to the second team (midfield), while Corinne Harris (midfield/forward) was named to the all-freshman team. Ezurike was also the team's representative on the All-Big Ten Tournament team.
Haley Kopmeyer was named a Capital One Academic All-District Five second team selection last Thursday (Nov. 1), as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). She received the honor for the second consecutive year after being named a third-team selection last year.
As a team, the Wolverines have scored 36 goals this season, the highest total in a single season since 2005 (39). Thirteen different players have scored at least one goal.
After scoring two goals at the Big Ten Tournament, Nkem Ezurike continues to climb the record books, ranking fourth in program history in career goals (33) and sixth in career points (74). She has scored in five straight matches. Additionally, all 13 of Ezurike's goals have come against Big Ten opponents.
The Wolverines have only allowed 15 goals in 21 matches this season and are on track to set a new program record for fewest goals allowed in a season. The current record is 18, which was set in 2010.
Haley Kopmeyer became the program's all-time leader in shutouts after blanking Wisconsin, 2-0, in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals last Wednesday (Oct. 31). She has 26 clean sheets for her career, including 10 this season. It also tied a program mark for most shutouts in a season (12).
Holly Hein, Haley Kopmeyer, and Meghan Toohey are the only U-M players to start all 21 matches this season. Kopmeyer has played in 1,951 of the team's 1,961 minutes this season. Sophomore Chloe Sosenko has played the most among the position players, logging 1,877 minutes, followed by Hein (1,860) and Toohey (1,834).
Central Michigan (15-6-1) received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after finishing second in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) to Miami (Ohio). The Chippewas played a difficult schedule, which included matches against fellow NCAA teams West Virginia, Penn State, Texas A&M, Marquette and Miami (Ohio).
Central Michigan has outscored opponents by a 32-19 margin this season. Four players -- Laura Gosse, Danielle Rotheram, Autumn Hawkins, and Jennifer Gassman -- are tied for the team lead in goals (four). Defender Bailey Brandon was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year, while goalkeeper Stefanie Turner was one of five Chippewas on the All-MAC First Team. Turner has 10 shutouts and a 0.67 goals-against average this season.
Michigan is 2-0-1 all-time against Central Michigan, but the two teams have never faced each other in postseason play. The two teams did meet last season, playing a 1-1 draw in Ann Arbor (Sept. 11, 2011).
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
| Haley Kopmeyer
Q: How does it feel to be back in the NCAA Tournament?
A: It feels really good. It was definitely a bit of a bummer to end the way we did last year, with all the injuries. It's nice to be back and have one last shot, especially it being my last year. We're not taking anything for granted.
Q: And what about hosting? Michigan hasn't hosted an NCAA Tournament match in many years, but it has to be nice to be able to play one more match at home.
A: It's awesome. The last match against Illinois ending the way it did was disappointing. We realize we have another shot and would love nothing more than to get one more home win for our fans and seniors.
Q: Central Michigan played here last year and left with a draw. You were in net in that one, but it was very physical out there. What do you remember about that match, and do you expect the same kind of physicality on Saturday?
A: It's going to be a tough match. Central Michigan is a very physical team, and they are going to be at the top of their game. A lot of their girls are going to go in hard for tackles. That showed last year with how many fouls there were. It's a rivalry. They want to beat us, and we want to beat them. It goes beyond the NCAA Tournament. There are state bragging rights on the line. We're expecting their best effort on Saturday, and we have to match it.
Q: The upperclassmen have been in this situation before, but the sophomores and freshmen haven't. How can you best prepare them for what follows now that you are in a "win or go home" scenario?
A: All season, we've stressed the importance of how special this team is. I think Michigan is going to be great team for years to come. It's never a guarantee, obviously, because as we saw last year, injuries and unpredictable things can happen to take away from a season. We're relishing this opportunity. Something special is happening here, and I think everyone understands it.
Q: Lastly, talk about the play of the defense. It's been so good all year, and that was rewarded with yourself and two others receiving All-Big Ten honors. The defense has certainly come a long way in your five years.
A: Absolutely. It's really special to see Shelina and Holly get recognized. It seems that playing centerback is a thankless position but to be named All-Big Ten is one of the highest honors that a player can get in our conference. They've made my job easier this year. They're incredibly strong, not only from an offense and defense standpoint, but also with their leadership. Enough cannot be said about how incredible the back line has been this year.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines went 1-1 at the Big Ten Tournament last week in Bloomington, Ind. They beat Wisconsin, 2-0, in the quarterfinals, and lost to Ohio State, 2-1, in the semifinals. [ Recaps: Wisconsin | Ohio State ]
Fri-Sun., Nov. 16-18 -- NCAA Second and Third Rounds (Campus Sites)
OTHER RELATED LINKS
Captains Blog: The Yellow Armband (Wednesday)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423