The Wolverine

December 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: FIELD HOCKEY Young Wolverines Close Out Strong Season pointed in the 6-1 loss to Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament but encouraged by what it means for the future of the program that they got there at all, Michigan field hockey coach Marcia Pankratz admitted there was a time when this season "could have gone the other way. There were heartbreaking near upsets of some of the best After the Wolverines wrapped up the 2012 season, disap- " teams in the country: a 2-1 loss to then-No. 13 Wake Forest on the first weekend of the season and a hard-fought 4-3 loss to eventual Big Ten champion Penn State in State Col- lege, Pa. The team had just one senior — midfielder Liesl Morris, a self-con- fessed quiet person who had to learn to lead the way — to help guide 18 players with freshman or sopho- more standing into battle. It could have gone the other way. But it didn't. The Wol ve r ine s clawed and fought through the slumps and bumps, finishing the regular season in a tie with Northwestern for second place in the brutal Big Ten. They fought through of things they wouldn't normally have to if there was a whole senior class. They had more responsibility on and off the field. I think we came together well as a team, stayed positive." In the NCAA Tournament, Old Dominion would not be de- nied. Monarchs senior forward Maartje van Rijswijk scored the first four goals of the game, giving Old Dominion a com- manding lead. Van Rijswijk eventually added a fifth goal, pushing the final score to 6-1. "Everyone was disappointed with the very last game. We just hit a firestorm of an Old Dominion team that played its very best game of the year, Pankratz said. "They played very, very well. Nobody would have beaten them that day. It was probably the first time our inexperience nipped us in the heels a little bit. Let's learn from it, get better and move forward — and that's part of gaining experi- ence, going through those kind of bruises and bumps. "It's pretty remark- the Big Ten Tourna- ment, nearly upsetting No. 3 Penn State again, before falling 2-0 to the Nittany Lions in the championship game. And they battled their way through injuries and illness. Junior midfielder Ainsley McCallister — one of Michigan's key players coming into the season — was forced to take a redshirt season after coming down with mono, which forced even more youth and inexperience on the field. But the Wolverines just kept pressing on. As Michigan's coach, Pankratz has won seven Big Ten reg- ular-season titles, four Big Ten Tournament championships and, of course, the 2001 national championship. This year, the Wolverines did not claim any titles — and still, Pankratz said, "It was one of my favorite seasons so far, coaching here. well and stayed consistent and positive. I was really pleased with that, The coach was proud of how her squad persevered. "We had a lot of adversity, and the team managed it very " just so positive. They were hard working. "In past years, we had some players who had a lot of recog- nition. This team is all collectively working together. It's just nice. It's a great team to be around. I enjoy their company. It's a special group. "We asked a lot from the players, to have responsibilities " she said. "I think the attitude of the players was that were normally bestowed upon seniors. The maturity level was just outstanding, because they had to do a lot 82 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2012 Midfielder Liesl Morris, U-M's only senior this season, helped lead a squad with 18 freshmen and sophomores to an NCAA Tournament bid. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS Michigan State and Ohio State the same weekend. The Big Ten was a really, really strong conference this year, and we were in every game. It was a good season." Even as Pankratz was speaking about the loss to Old Do- minion, she grew more and more excited about the pros- pects for next season. With the way this team came together throughout the able. I was proud of them, how they kept working, were consis- tent and performed under pressure. We had year — and the amount of talent returning — the Wolver- ines should be poised for a big campaign in 2013. Forward Rachael Mack, the team's leading scorer with 19 goals and 45 points, will be back for her senior season. Budding star Leslie Smith, a redshirt sophomore, will look to build on the 26 points she contributed. And talented freshmen Aisling Naughton (14 points), Lau- ren Thomas (12 points) Jaime Dean (four points), Taryn Mark (three points) and defensive midfielder Caroline Chromick will continue to progress as part of a rising sophomore class that "exceeded expectations" in 2012. "I think the girls are already looking forward to training in the offseason and getting stronger and winning the con- ference next week, good. We'll certainly be contending and battling for the championship, like we always expect to do. I think we will be right in the thick of things, and that's all you can ask: to be in that position every year. " Pankratz said. "I think we can be really " — Andy Reid "

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