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September 04, 1997 - Image 19

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-04

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1997 - 19A

'M' soccer's trip out East will
be homecoming for Belkin

,Vois Farah
Sports Writer
I he word homecoming brings
4y,images to mind.
* 6tive dances in high school
oriums marked by gaudy, over-
dresses, boring suits and ties,
ages, kings, queens, soccer
ocer games?
bmecoming will take on a new
ning for Michigan soccer coach
bie Belkin when the Wolverines
el : to Amherst, Mass., to face
(ass tomorrow and New
Hampshire on Sunday.
e trip should bring back memo-
sfor Belkin, who was an All-
rica defender for UMass, lead-
her team to four final four
arances at the NCAA champi-
ips from 1984-87.
be fourth-year Michigan coach
yt have much time to reminisce,
ever, because the Wolverines
Id have their hands full with
kin's alma mater.
Mass was ranked 19th in presea-
polls and so far hasn't failed to
appoint.
he Minutewomen hold a 1-4
rd after shutting out Fairfield, 4-
n their season opener.
Mass is also a much more estab-
ed team, compared to Michigan,
h has only existed for the four
rs Belkin has been coaching.
-Massachusetts is a quality, expe-
tced team," Belkin said. "They've
e, the NCAA tournament since
tie early 1980s."
But the Wolverines have also had
their own taste of early season suc-
cess. Michigan started the season
with two victories, including an
impressive win over No. 24
*entucky.
Belkin said' the experience will
come in handy against a veteran

team such as UMass.
"Beating Kentucky was a big
deal," Belkin said. "A big confi-
dence booster-just to know that in
the tough games we can come out on
top.
"We know that every game is
going to be like that and tougher."
Although Belkin said she won't
determine the starting lineup until
the Wolverines arrive in Amherst,
one good bet is freshman defender
Erin Gilhart.
Gilhart played all 180 minutes of
Michigan's first two games and was
the only freshman Wolverine to earn
Kentucky Invitational All-
Tournament honors.
Like Belkin during her years play-
ing for UMass, Gilhart is also a
defensive specialist. And, like
Belkin, Gilhart will probably figure
into Michigan's success during her
four years.
An NSCAA/Umbro All-American
for Lakota High School in West
Chester, Ohio, Gilhart was ready to
step into a contributing role the
moment she became a Wolverine.
"I felt like I was ready to play,"
Gilhart said. "I was pretty confident
but a little nervous."
The older members of the team
helped make the transition from
high school to college much easier
for Gilhart.
"With the defense, we all clicked
really well, so it was fun," Gilhart
said. "It's been great. They've all
been really helpful, and everybody
gets along well.
"That's going to really bring us
together the whole year."
Gilhart said that Michigan is
going to surprise a lot of people -
including the entire UMass team.
"I really don't know too much
about them, aside from their rank-
ing," Gilhart said. "If we keep play-

ing how we are and not worry about
ranks, we'll be fine. I think we're a
lot stronger than people give us
credit for."
Doing research on the
Minutewomen is Belkin's job, and
she said the Wolverines would be
ready to face her ex-team - even
though a few things may have
changed for UMass since she was a
player.
"We have a chance at every game
- everyone has a chance," Belkin
said.
"We'll get our scouting report and
see what we can have a look at."
Gilhart will have to deal with a
potent offensive threat in UMass'
Emma Kurowski. The sophomore
forward lead her team last year with
29 points on 11 goals and seven
assists.
The Minutewomen are also strong
on the defensive end. Danielle Dion
is the top goalkeeper in the Atlantic
Ten conference with a 0.76 goals-
against average.
Not to be forgotten is New
Hampshire. The Wildcats aren't as
highly touted as the Minutewomen,
but they also hold a 1-0 record at the
start of the season.
New Hampshire will also benefit
from the return of senior forward
Niki Begin.
Begin led the Wildcats in scoring
in 1995 with 18 points but only
faced limited action last year due to
injury.
Gilhart's defensive counterpart on
New Hampshire is Shannon Strong,
a senior who earned preseason all-
conference honors.
Although the Wolverines may face
many outstanding individuals on
opposing teams, Gilhart said
Michigan's depth at a number of key
positions - not just one or two - is
what makes Michigan stand out.

MARGARET MYERS/Daily
Michigan soccer player Marie Spaccarotella and the rest of the Wolverines travel to New England this weekend to take
on UMass and New Hampshire. Michigan coach Debbie Belkin will return to UMass, her alma mater, where she played
defense and led UMass to four final four appearances from 1984-87.

"We're tough," Gilhart said.
"We're really good in the air, and
we're unpredictable. All of our
styles are different, so I think that
really helps us and makes us
unique.
"You never really know what's
going to happen."
The weekend trip may be a home-
coming for Belkin, but a young
Michigan team is going to try to rain
on Massachusetts and New
Hampshire's parades.

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