Trsday, November 1 1 - The Mchgan Dail -17A
By DAVID ROTH * DAIL YSPORTS WRITER
ver the past 26 years, Michigan
ield hockey teams have strngl,
to say the least. Before this season,
ichigan had limped to a 33-72-8 record
ersus Big Ten teams. During the 1980s,
olverines stumbled through two
ne-win seasons and weathered mediocre
urth-, fifth-, and sixth- place finishes in
e Big Ten.
But since current seniors Jocelyn
aFace, Kati Oakes, Erica Widder and
hiey Reichenbach entered the fray as
eshmen when the team had a slushy 7-
1 record, the Wolverines have roared past
e opposition, notching a 50-12 record
ver the past three seasons
anks to this talented quartet,
igan has spiced up its resume with a
ig Ten regular-season championship, a
ig Ten Tournament championship, and
cw, an NCAA Final Four berth.
This fearless foursome's career togeth-
has been a roller coaster that will now
id in Boston, either tomorrow or Sunday
The Seniors will then be forced to com-
act everything, from fiery August prac-
:es at Ocker Field to emotions from sea-
)nding losses, into their final two
Sophomore midfielder Catherne
Foreman, who helped keep the
Wolverines' season alive last Sunday ver-
sus Wake Forest by saving a shot with just
her stick, knows how crucial the seniors
have been in turning around the Michigan
field hockey program.
"They have been here through every-
thing,' Foreman said. "They came in as
freshmen when Michigan (field) hockey
was not a force at all.
"This year we have done it on our own
and proved that we're a force to be reck-
oned with, and (the seniors) are a big part
of it. For years they have been knocked
out and have not even made the (NCAA)
Michigan's seniors have taken a cue
this year from comedian Jerry Seinfeld,
who once said, "There's only one way to
go out - on top"
"I'm excited to go out this way," senior
LaFace said. "I can't imagine a better way
to go out. If these are your final games, to
go out with a bang and be in the Final
Four is amazing."
"I couldn't go any other way,"
Reichenbach added. "No regrets. We
played well and it's been a great season. I
can't wait to play my last two games, and
after that it's a proper ending."
Senior netminder Oakes, who actually
has junior eligibility but will be graduat-
ing nevertheless, said that she will try to
put her emotions aside and will instead
focus on enjoying her final road trip.
"We're all really pumped," Oakes said.
"They're huge games, regardless of
whether they are my last two games or if
they were my first two games."
Michigan coach \Marcia Pankratz
hopes that this tournament puts the cher-
ry on top of what has been a sweet career
so far for her seniors.
"I think that there's nothing better than
ending your career on a win," Pankratz
said. "They've certainly earned it and
deserve to be in the championship. I am
just proud of them and they're the reason
that we're here."
Widder wants to make the final games
of her Michigan career count, and expects
the same high level of effort this weekend
that the team has given all season.
"It's exciting. I just want to go out on
the field and leave with no regrets. I
know that we'll play our best. Whatever
happens will be great."
Since field hockey has been such inte-
gral part of her life as a Wolverine,
Widder does not know how .she will
respond when Monday comes and the
team does not have practice.
"It'll be sad because I love Michigan
and leaving will be a bad thing," Widder
"Not playing hockey is going to be
The seniors' effect on their younger
teammates has been enormous. Players
like Reichenbach and Widder have acted
as mentors to Molly Powers and other
freshmen to show them the ropes.
"I think that we're all really excited that
this is end of the season and this is the last
time we're going to be playing all togeth-
er," Powers said. "Playing with the seniors
- they've been such the leaders of this
year on and off the field. We're definitely
going to miss them. They're four really
Though these are obviously huge
games tor the seniors this weekend, the
underelassmcn know that going to the
Final Four may not be an annual opportu-
nity for them, either, and they also want to
make the most of their moment in the sun.
"I think we all know that we have to
play hard, seniors or not," sophomore
Ashley Thomas said. "I think that the rest
of us are going to try to send our seniors
out with a national championship.'
'We want to win it for them and sr
ourselves," sophomore Stephanie
Sackellares added. "We'll play especially
hard since it's their last game."
All four seniors have stamped their
considerable footprints on the Michigan
field hockey program. Without question,
all four have helped catapult Michigan out
of the basement and into the limelight.
The \\olverines, who only a few yeairs
ago defined mediocntv. now~ have distin-
guished themseces as one of'the premier
teams in the countya , thanks in large part
to the effots of the senior class.
This weekend i Beantown. all eyes
will be on the seniors, and their team-
mates, as they try to snag the first
women's championship ever in the histo-
ry of Michigan ath eties.
s.%i' e' <
The seniors, along with their team-
ates, will put their field hockey balls on
e line against undefeated Connecticut
morrow in the hope of earning a spot in
e championship game versus the Iowa-
[aryland winner on Sunday.
Each player knows that each game she
ays could possibly be the last one for the
niors. Throughout the postseason, and
pecially during the NCAA Sweet
n and Elite Eight, Michigan has
en strimg to keep playing just one
The Michigan women's field hockey team piles on top of senior Ashley Reichenbach while celebrating a victory over Penn
State en route to Michigan's first-ever Big Ten Tournament championship. That was just the start of good things for Michigan.