The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 11, 2000 - 13
By Benjamin Singer * Daily Sports Writer
ooking into a crowd of field hock-
ey players, she can be hard to spot
at only 5-foot-I. In the open field,
it's hard to keep track of her as she zips
*round with outstanding speed. Your best
bet to find her is to look for the streak of
neon green and orange laces that keep
the shoes tied on the fleetest of feet.
Michigan's .opponents try to make
sure they know where freshman April
Fronzoni is. She has burst onto the
NCAA field hockey scene as quickly as
she can move up and down the turf.
She came with a playful attitude
toward the sport as evidenced by her col-
orful shoelaces. She put them on for a
strict game for Wyoming Valley West
High School in Larksville, Pennsylvania
to fire up her team and they haven't
come off since.
She also came with a business-like
attitude and a great work ethic. Michigan
coach Marcia Pankrtaz said she is one of
the team's hardest workers.
What she is already leaving behind is
-her mark on Michigan field hockey.
As one of the most elite prospects from
*st year's recruiting class, Fronzoni's suc-
cess is no surprise. With 13 goals, second
in the Big Ten behind teammate Molly
Powers with 14, the newcomer is already
one of the go-to players.
"I can't say that I'm very comfortable
with (the success) at this time," Fronzoni
said. "But I'm working towards that.
Each practice, each game, I realize more
that I can't just step back and have every-
one else lead. I'm coping with the fact
,at if I get the ball, they want me to do
mething with it."
With accomplished veterans already on
the fifth-ranked Wolverines' roster,
Fronzoni is in a role she did not anticipate.
"Before the season, I just wanted to
come in and give my best and make an
impact on the team," Fronzoni said. "Did
I think that I'd make an impact this
quick? I don't know about that."
But Pankratz did know about that. She
had visions of Fronzoni stepping in and
stepping up right away.
"Absolutely. Without question,"
Pankratz said. "I watched her play a lot
and know that she's special and can do
some really neat things."
Watching Fronzoni play, it's obvious
that size doesn't matter. As the smallest
member of the team (though Fronzoni
finds the listed heights to be somewhat
debatable) she has acquired the name
Pippy, short for pip-squeak. She has
Pankratz to thank for that. Pankratz start-
ed the nickname because she didn't like
the original one, "Ape," short for April.
Pip is a name Fronzoni can't seem to
say without laughing or rolling her eyes.
I'm "5-foot-I and I play like I'm 6-
foot-10," Fronzoni joked, as if she has to
defend her short stature. "For a while, I
wasn't comfortable. I was like, 'Am I
ever going to grow?' But I came to terms
with this is how I'm supposed to be."
Conventional field hockey wisdom
doesn't look at height anyway.
It doesn't matter, Pankratz said.
"We've got great tall players in Courtney
Reid and Reagan (Wulfsberg), and great
shorter people in Kelli (Cannon) and
If anything, her size makes her quick-
er and closer to the ground. She sepa-
rates herself not only figuratively, but
also literally as she outruns defenders.
She got her earliest competitions on
the school playground. Fronzoni was
always nominated by her female class-
mates to race against the
she sarcastically put it,
boys who, as
Pankratz said she has the me v
Barry Sanders and the speed of Dion
Deion: Out in the open, he can in
with anybody and run past anYbody On
punts, defenders are always looking at
the back of his jersey.
Barry: In a tight space with iacklers al
around him, he made people mi
picked his spot, and then a sudden blu
emerged from the pile taking oil r a
April: All of the above.
"She's certainly the most explosie,"
Pankratz said of Fronzoni compared t
her teammates. "For field hockey, she
has world class speed. That's somethint
you can't teach. We want to be able t
utilize it the best we can.
"Not only does she have the g
speed, but she has the skills to go along
with it. She can do sonic really brilliat
things in a hockey game.
Running fast is nice, but it's nicer \. l
some teammates right behind yu Whe
Fronzoni joined M ich igan, she bec ame
the quickest forw ard on one o f the fcn y V t .
front lines in the country. With otler
speedsters like Powers and Jesse Veith.
Fronzoni is aided in charging the net
with a pack of Wolverines.
"It really helps a lot," Fronzoni said.
"Throughout high school, not until my
senior year was there someone as quick
as me to catch up when I got the ball
Now, having two people, one on each
side of me - for all of us to keep up
with each other is great."
Pankratz had her eye on Fron/oni ldil
a while. From the time she knew the
name April Fronzoni, she had plans
Frhman Aprl Fronzoni may only be 5-foot-3, but she stands tall in the Big Ten with
atitude have contributed to this year's success of the Michigan field hockey team.
nsrti r quick style of play into the
\olveinc front line.
I xxaiched her play about three years
a e was a litle hit unpolished at
thai in, bitt you could see her explo-
sv'e speed" Pankratz said. "She was a
peayer that I wxas watching at that time
and fignuring that she would fit into our
teamn rally well because we already had
IFronz.ni would have to see if she
thought Michigan was a perfect match
fr her, or if there was someplace else.
She started with a large list of possi-
bilities whbich dwindled down to a final
lour:' Michigan, Penn State, North
C an Iina and Maryland.
It was a huge decision. It was really
tough," Fronzoni said. "Mv dad is an
alumni from Penn State. (I thought) 'Oh
no! I'n going to devastate the whole
Iionzoni famii ly if I decide to go (to
Michigan). But they were behind me
100 percent, whatever I choose.
"My dad is getting over that he has to
wear a Michigan shirt on occasion. It
kills him sometimes"
Michigan won over Fronzoni as soon
as she stepped onto campus. She still had.
to make other trips to schools, but
Michigan did its part to impress her,
from the field hockey coaching staff to
the football game against Notre Dame.
It didn't hurt that her teammate from
the national under-21 team, Kristi
Gannon, was going to Michigan.
"We've been great friends since we
played at that level," Fronzoni said of her
roommate this year "It would be great to
come here and be the forward and have
her be the defender. We're having the
time of our lives"
Afler the National I ockey Festival in
Florida at the end of the field hockey
season last year, Pankratz and Fronzoni
ran into each other.
13 goals. Her blazing speed and firey
"I didn't even tell my parents or
coaches or anyone when I was going to
commit, who I was going to commit to,'
Fronzoni said. "I just ended up talking to
Marcia. I (told her) 'I want to come."'
Fronzoni became a Wolverine;
Pankratz knew she would.
"I was more concerned about Penn
State than Maryland just because it was
close to home,' Pankratz said. "But I
really did in my heart of hearts think she
was coming to Michigan. I just felt it was
the right place for her."
Fronzoni was a highly touted recruit.
She drew an analogy from Pankratz to
Deion Sanders. She wears neon
shoelaces. Even so, no one who knew
her could confuse her with Neon Deion.
"For someone who comes in with a lot
of accolades and expectations, she is
very humble," Pankratz said.
"There's more to her than just a flash
out there on the hockey field."
ig Ten play brings tougher times fr soccer
4y David Horn
ally Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON - The appropri-
ate cliche would be to say that Michigan
soccer was out of its league Sunday
against Indiana. But the unfortunate fact
for the Wolverines is that they were very
much in their league, or rather their con-
ference. The second Big Ten game for
the infant varsity program loomed on the
schedule like a date with Godzilla, and
r 90 minutes on the pitch against the
moosiers, Michigan was hundreds of'
But there was more to the 7-0 Indiana
victory than the score would otherwise
indicate. The Hoosiers, like Michigan,
were born of a strong club program and
retained many club players and a dedi-
cated coach. Indiana coach Jerry Yeagley
is the heart of the soccer program _
rguably the greatest coaches in the
untry on one of the most dominant
teams of the last quarter century. He
began the men's varsity program in 1973
and has won five national champi-
onships (including the last two) in 24
NCAA tournament appearances.
This past weekend was a special one for
both squads. For the Wolverines -- espe-
'cially the club team holdovers -- it was a
game that they had been waiting for as long
as they have been playing at Michigan.
For Indiana, the game was part of a
*rents' weekend that also saw the
rededication of Bill Armstrong Stadium.
The renovated stadium includes the
Addition of a 5,000 seat concrete-poured
grandstand. a new grass playing surface
and a new press box,
The Wolveriies were overwhelmed
when they got off the bus for a late-after-
noon practice. The newly refurbished
facility glimmered in the setting October
, and' was a sparkling contrast to
ochigan's home, the sparse Elbel Field.
Michigan had no illusions about the
quality of'program that they were to face
yesterday afternoon. Sophomore goal-
keeper Brad King acknowledged that
being on the short end of the lopsided
score was not a matter of their perceiving
Indiana as being underrated, but rather
the Wolverines' own failures on the field.
"They were the hardest and toughest
we'ye faced." King said,
Michigan played well against Penn
State two weeks ago, falling 1-0 in over-
time against the No. 2 team in the coun-
try. But Sunday was another matter.
The boote's allowed seven goals on an
astonishing 14 shots. Five goals came in
the first half, when the Wolverines looked
particularly outmatched. During halftime,
assistant coach (and Hoosier alumni)
Ernie Yarborough called on the team to
view the second half as a "new game."
Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Albert
Geldres and the other leaders spoke inspi-
rationally in the locker room at the half.
"We have nothing to lose now, huh fel-
las'?" Geldres asked his mates rhetorically.
Michigan did increase its intensity
significantly in the second half. The ball
spent some time on the Hoosier end of
the field, as opposed to the first half,
when the Wolverines had a difficult time
moving the ball out of their defensive
third. Defensively, they were plugging
holes, and decreasing the room that
allowed Indiana's top midfielder Pat
Noonan and forward Ryan Mack to
The Michigan squad that the Hoosiers
met for the first time was not a surprise.
"Michigan is a lot better than the score
indicates" Yeagley said. "We're more
mature. We didn't play so well the other
night (Friday, vs. Butler), but it was just
a matter of time before someone caught
the wrath of our offense."
As glaring as the contrasts between
the two programs are currently, the simi-
larities between where Indiana is and
where Michigan wants to be are appar-
"Across the board, we had five or six
players who could compete at their
level," Michigan coach Steve Burns said.
"It will take us three years to get to the
same talent level (as Indiana), and anoth-
er two to gct the same intensity"
It took Yeagley a quarter century to
build his program to what it is today.
Burns and his crew are patient yet still
anxious to do similarly. Michigan is
finally a Big Ten program, and the hope
is that it is only a matter of time until it
finds itself very much a part of its league.
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Kevin Taylor and the other members of the ina men's varsity soccer team faced
tough times in Bloomington this weekend aga the defending national champions.
For miore Details
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Wednesday, October 25, 2000
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