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September 08, 1998 - Image 67

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-08

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The Michigan Daily- New tudent Edit ion - September 8 1998 - 9E

soccer takes first tournament title

By Jacdb Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
Fgur years ago, Debbie Belkin took
over a Michigan soccer team with no
histry and an uncertain future. But
no1 ivJth a Big Ten tournament cham-
* ip under their belts, the
W cjnes stand on the threshold of a
solii.,pst, a bright future and an even
mos citing present.
Michigan claimed its first-ever post
seasoretitle last fall in Blaine, Minn.
with a 1-0, double-overtime victory
over Northwestern.
For-the Wolverines, who knocked
off Ohio State and Penn State on their
wayle)their victory over the Wildcats,
thegu hrough the tournament could-
*gyg been any sweeter.
'v>epever had a greater moment in
my life, said Michigan forward Amber
Bernlowsky, who netted the game-
wiquing goal in the second overtime.
"It a1 great feeling."
4Ewas only fitting that Berendowsky,
who set the Big Ten record for points in
a season with her performance in the
&tickers m
holes as F]
IHelber gr
By Rnck freemu
tpWrts Witer
,eportable black-and-white TV sat
on the bleachers, ignored. The sights of
the1997 Michigan-Penn State football
gamehtlashed in silence, unseen. The
hundreds of pairs of eyes were focused
on ,a more engrossing game.
MUichigan vs. Ohio State was the
gan of the day . And Michigan had
justwdn its first-ever Big Ten title in
fiela Eockey. And that day, they
6*nced to the title game of the Big
en towrnament in Iowa City, before
fallg, 2-1, to Penn State.
Ittook 25 years for the Michigan
fiel hockey team to win its first Big
Tengitle.
Ad when they did, the NCAA pow-
ers-#atyVere didn't feel that the title,
alor; with a one-goal loss in the tour-
nannt, were enough to award an at-
large bid to an upstart midwestern
L And Michigan coach Marcia
Pf 4atz's season came to a "highly
disa~ponting" end.
But Pankratz remembered her sec-
ond 'ason at Michigan as a success,
anei last year's perceived snub, not
ju4 of the Big Ten (she played her col-
leg ball at Iowa) but of her team will
prgide an "awful lot of motivation,"
fodghe upcoming season.
.hey might need it.
Whe Wolverines have lost some
offnsive firepower in the form of their
int~nidator and All-American, Julie
Flhs.
hat's always difficult to replace,"
Pa kratz said. "We'll see who blos-
sor~s."
Phe expects a scoring bloom from
soihomores Kelli Gannon and
Courtney Reid, but maybe the biggest
Nines to fill will be the well-padded
oni'tht patrol Michigan's crease. Amy
Shrenjoyed a spectacular four-year
at Michigan. Helber's departure
w'~ leave the net in untested hands.
'uors Katie Oakes, who backed up

tournament, was the deciding factor in
the tournament's decisive game.
Berendowsky was Michigan's catalyst
all season, leading a high-powered
offense that blew out opponents inmost
conference games.
The forward amassed 18 goals and
17 assists for 53 total points this season.
She led the Big 'Ien in each of those cat-
egories and was the third-leading goal
scorer in the nation by season's end.
After only two season's of college
soccer, Berendowsky is tied for
Michigan's all-time points record with
Debbie Flaherty, a captain and graduat-
ing senior on the team this past fall.
How good is Berendowsky?
Just nine games into the year
Berendowsky shattered the Michigan
single-season points record of 19 - a
mark she set the previous year as a
freshman. So it should come as no sur-
prise that her middle name is Star.
But amidst Berendowsky's season of
records, her feats were overshadowed
by those of the team which, in only its
fourth year of existence, already won a
ust fill in
Lachs,
iduate
Helber her first two years, "has the
inside track," Pankratz said but is far
from being the automatic replacement.
"I just want someone to keep the ball
out of the net, whoever does that, will
play," Pankratz said.
Maureen Tasch, who kept the ball out
of the net well enough to win her high
school a Michigan state championship,
will have a short journey to her new
locker at Ocker Field. The Wolverines'
new facility is a couple slap shots away
from her former field -- at Pioneer
High School. The other freshman
goalie, Adrienne Voutta, had a longer
trip. The Colorado Springs native kept
balls out of nets in the German Indoor
League.
But the longest journey for any play-
er will be for the 5-foot-5 defender
from Happy Valley, Catherine Foreman.
But she's no Penn State fan. She's
from Happy Valley, Australia.
And Foreman will make an early
homecoming Aug. 15-27 when Pankratz
takes the Wolverines down under for an
eight-match pre-season warm-up.
Australia is the defending world champi-
on in the sport so Pankratz expects the
trip to be a baptism by fire for
Wolverines new and old.
The trip will be good preparation for
the double-round robin Big Ten season.
The six teams play each other twice,
and, Pankratz said, "every year it's a
battle."
Especially with Penn State, where "a
nice rivalry is developing," Pankratz
said.
And a fan base is also starting to
grow, something that has been a rarity
for the field hockey team.
A record crowd - and the band -
turned out to see Michigan polish off
Michigan State in the final regular sea-
son game at Ocker Field and clinch the
Big Ten title.
Even more might show up this sea-
son.
Especially if they can bring a TV

Big en championship and attained the
No. 15 ranking in the country.
The Wolverines finished with a 7-1-1
record in Big Ten play, their regular sea-
son title hopes thwarted only by one
subpar weekend. Michigan lost a 4-3
overtime heartbreaker at Minnesota on
Oct. 3 and then battled to a scoreless tie
with Penn State two days later.
Belkin's squad more than redeemed
itself in November at the Big Ten tour-
nament. Michigan emerged as the
favorite to win the fiesta after
Northwestern upset the hometown
Gophers in the second round.
The Wolverines never got a shot at
revenge against Minnesota, but they
will this season. And by then, Michigan
might be all alone at the top of the con-
ference.
Only two significant seniors depart
this record-breaking Michigan squad
- Flaherty, who has led the Wolverines
as long Belkin has, and Poulin, who
provided plenty of extra punch as the
team's second-leading point scorer.
Poulin and freshman Kacy Beitel

were the benefactors of most
Berendowsk y passes as they combined
to score 28 goals ihis past sea son.
falaherty's offensive role shrunk a little
with the coming of young stars like
Berendowsky and Beitel, but she was
still the team's field manager.
Fittingly enough, the last g oal
Flaherty ever scored for Michigan came
in the final minutes of the final uname
a 5-1 loss to No. 7 Nebraska in the
first round of the NCAA tournament
'1he loss was humbling, to say the
least. But it also represented how tar
Michigan had come since the beginning
of Flaherty's career. In their inaugural
season, the Wolverines won only one
conference game and didn't approach
respectability until finishing 3-3 in
1996.
"This was my goal,' said Faherty
after winning the Big Tben tournament
"When I first came to this program, I
knew it would start out slowly and
hopefully end like this. We've already
done a lot of firsts this year, but I want-
ed to go out with something like this."

1-II[POTO
The 1997 season - ust M gans four on the varsity eve - was definitely
the most successfu th on the Big Ten toumrament title.

.,

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>N s <, b _

K/N>,

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FILE PHOTO
Despite finishing its best season in years, the Michigan field hockey team must
regroup after the loss of Julie Flachs to graduation.

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