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September 15, 1997 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-15

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - September 15, 1997 - 3B

,S tickers sweep weekend competition
Friday's overtime struggle aids Sunday's success as Michigan rolls to 7-0 victory

8y David Stern
F the Daily
- . Following a 7-0 blowout over
* >;uthwest Missouri State on Sunday,
K-yhigan field hockey coach Marcia
*ankratz couldn't help but be excit-
'This team is head and shoulders
above where (it was) last year at this
.. time in the season," Pankratz said.
After struggling offensively to win
3-2 over Kent State in overtime
Jiday, Michigan came back with a
vengeance Sunday afternoon to
trounce Southwest Missouri.
Southwest Missouri, which at
'9mes had as many as eight freshmen
n the field, was no match for the
overall team speed and talent of the
more experienced Wolverines, who
outshot Southwest Missouri, 42-2.
Led by senior midfielder Julie
Flachs, who had three goals in each
game, the Wolverines improved their
season record to 5-1.
Michigan also received goals from
Lindsay Babbitt, Meredith

Weinstein, Loveita Wilkinson and
Jocelyn LaFace.
Babbitt started off the scoring at
28:29 of the first half when she took
a centering pass from Jeanne Shin
and maneuvered her way around the
goalie for an easy tap-in goal.
Weinstein followed Babbitt at
10:47 by stickhandling her way down
the field, blowing past defenders,
and slamming a hard shot to the back
of the cage.
Then Flachs took control of the
game. Flachs recorded a natural hat
trick with her first goal coming off a
penalty corner from Johnson and
Widder at 5:17 to make the score 3-
0.
Flachs followed that with another
goal on a corner, and then capped off
her day with a third goal at 5:34 of
the second half.
She weaved between several
defenders before slapping a back-
hand shot past the goaltender.
Wilkinson and Laface finished off
the scoring for the Wolverines.

"This team is head and shoulders
above where (it was) last year at
this time"
- Marcia Pankratz
Michigan field hockey coach

"This was a really big game for
us," Flachs said.
"After Friday's game, we came out
on fire today, which allowed us to
give valuable playing time to our
younger players."
Though not heavily tested, the
Wolverines again got a solid perfor-
mance in goal by Amy Helber, who
recorded the shutout.
The team's confidence has picked
up tremendously since its sweep on
the West Coast, and that improve-
ment is starting to show in its play.
After winning a tough, who-
wants-it-more battle with Kent State
on Friday, and in blowout fashion on
Sunday, the Wolverines look like

they are ready for the upcoming Big
Ten schedule.
They also look like they might be
ready to make some noise nationally.
"Perennial East Coast powers
don't always give the Midwest
schools the respect that they
deserve," Pankratz said.
If Michigan continues the
improvement it has shown early in
the season, schools around the coun-
try will be in for a tougher match
than they have been against past
Wolverine teams.
Michigan's next game will be
Wednesday at Ball State. The confer-
ence season begins for Michigan
against Iowa on Sept. 26.
A sticky history
Michigan field hockey facts -
then and now
Then (past accomplishments)
Kent State history
First meeting since 1994
Series record:
Michigan leads, 6-2-3
Southwest Missouri State history.
First meeting since 1994
Michigan's last victory was in
1990
1 Michigan's best overall record:
13-3 in 1982
N Two 1996 All-Americans
(Shelley Johnson and Michelle
Smulders)
9 Six Stickers who were
Academic All- Big Ten in 1996
8 Finished last in the Big Ten in
1996 with a conference record
of (2-8)
Now (1997)
9 Their 5-1 start is the best start
since 1993 when they began
5-0
* Two victories away from tying
last season's total
X First season that women's field
hockey team sent four
players to the Under 21
Junior World Cup
Championship

PRtS odayColumn
JOHN
LEROI
Out of Bounds
Plar4t' bicollege fotball
provies newv excitement
B efore Saturday's loss to Purdue, Notre Dame was ranked 12th by the
Associated Press. This week, the Fighting Irish didn't even make the top 25.
Colorado was No. 7 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. The Buffaloes lost to
Michigan, a ranked team, and they tumbled to No. 16 (see Page 2B if you don't
believe me).
The reason? New pollsters? Extremely capricious voters? An error in counting
last week's votes? No. It's just that so many teams are so good, or at least there are a
bunch of teams that are about as good as each other.
For the first time in - well, I don't have an exact date, but it's been a long time
- seven teams received first-place votes in the AP poll. Eight teams were deemed
No. 1 by at least one pollster in the ESPNIUSA Today poll.
Nobody seems to have any idea who the best two or three teams in the country
are. Florida is good. So's Penn State. So's Washington.
Tennessee is very good, but UCLA almost beat them. Speaking of UCLA, the
Bruins came in 0-2 and trounced then-No. 10 Texas, 66-3. Now UCLA, 1-2, is
ranked 24th (in the AP poll).
And Central Florida was beating Nebraska through two quarters of football. What
the heck is going on?
I'll tell you what. There is more parity in college football this year than there has
been in the last 20 years.
That's not to say that Purdue and Central Florida will be ranked anytime soon
(though both received votes in this week's AP poll). But while Florida will still blow
out teams like Central Michigan, at least some of these traditionally bad teams can
step onto the same football field as top-25 teams and look better than the local high
school squad.
That's good for college football. Fielding competitive teams makes schools look
good to prospective students - athletes and non-athletes alike - and it makes the
seaon more fun to watch.
It is far more exciting to the average fan not to know who is the best team in the
country. And it's more fun for die-hard fans who can follow their favorite team, no
matter how bad they were in the past, and know that teams like Purdue have the
chance to beat intra-state rivals like Notre Dame.
It also takes a lot of power out of the hands of pollsters and makes the games
themselves more meaningful. Next year, with the Super Alliance, rankings will
mean everything. Hopefully, competition for the top spots will be as heated as it is
this season.
Let teams play football on the field, not on paper. Early season rankings mean
very little when games are this competitive.
Gary Barnett has proven a lot, taking Northwestern from perennial doormat to a
Rose Bowl team. Coaches of other losing programs have more to live up to now.
But little by little, bad teams are becoming mediocre, which is all you can ask for.
Not every team can be Northwestern. After all, for every Northwestern, there is an
Oklahoma, who the Wildcats beat soundly this season.
The Sooners, once the most feared team in football, have been reduced to nothing
more than a fading star.
But stories like those are far less common these days than those of Northwestern,
Oregon and Washington State.
And more important are teams like Purdue and Kansas, once shoddy programs}
who now can contend with the big boys. This year will be a fun one to watch.
-John Leroi can be reached over e-mail atjrleroi@umich.edu.

JONATHAN SUMMER/Daily
Freshmen Tamra Geryk and Courtney Reid and the Wolverines stuck it to both opponents last weekend, recording two victo-
rei. Friday, Michigan squeaked by Kent State In overtime, 3-2, and Southwest Missouri fell on Sunday, 7-0.
Flachs records two hat tricks

By B.J. Luria
Daily Sports Writer
Last year, only two Michigan field
hockey players scored six goals in the
18-game season. This past weekend,
senior captain Julie Flachs scored six
goals in two games.
Flachs recorded two hat tricks in
three days, against Kent State on Friday
and Southwest Missouri State on
Sunday.
Against Kent State, Flachs scored all
three of Michigan's goals in a 3-2 over-
*me thriller. Her hat trick against
1outhwest Missouri helped put things
out of reach of the Bears.
The Wolverines led, 2-0, when Flachs
scored her first goal of the game with
5:17 remaining in the first half.
Michigan went on to win, 7-0.
In six games this season, Flachs
already has 11 goals, two more than her
total last season.
Although she has yet to pick up an
*ssist this year, her 22 points are
already more than she has recorded in
any other full season.
Flachs attributes much of the
increase in goal production to her
improved conditioning.
"This year I think I've been in better
shape than normal," Flachs said. "I owe
that to my coaches and then my team-
mates, who give me all the assists."
Flachs's speed was apparent on sev-
eral of her scores. Three of her goals
@ast weekend came on breakaways
when she managed to get behind the
tdefense.
"She doesn't have to do so much run-
ning, because she already places herself
in the right place," senior defender

Sandra Cabrera said. "She's got a lot of
skill and thought fot the game."
Not only has Flachs scored a lot of
goals, but they have been important
ones as well. Three of her 11 goals have
been game-winners, including the over-
time goal against Kent State.
Dramatic goals are nothing new for
Flachs, though. Of her nine goals last
year, four of them were game-winners,
leading the team.
"She's got incredible stick skills,"
Cabrera said. "She knows the game
really well and she knows how to read

players."
In her four years at Michigan, Flachs
has started every single match for the
Wolverines. This year, her teammates
voted her captain, and their decision has
been paying off.
She has picked up the slack left by
the graduation of last year's leading
scorer, Michelle Smulders, and has led
Michigan to a 5-1 record.
"She's an on-the-field kind of leader;
she doesn't like to say too much, she
likes to show by example," Cabrera
said. "She's an awesome leader."

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