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November 25, 2002 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-25

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8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - November 25, 2002

Michigan's intensity
overwhelms Waves

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer

Anyone who claims that soccer
players are weak obviously hasn't
seen the Michigan women's soccer
team play. After beating No. 3 seed
Pepperdine on Saturday, the Wolver-
ines are one game away from reach-
ing the College Cup, the equivalent
of the Final Four for women's soccer.
Pepperdine coach Tim Ward was
impressed by the tenacity that the
Wolverines played with.
"You really don't see that kind of
intensity too often," Ward said.
"These Michigan girls were running
right through our forwards, and it
wasn't dirty either. It was just hard
to the ball."
Ward also noted that Michigan is a
physically imposing team.
"(Michigan's) average team size is
5-foot-8," Ward noted. "When they
were introducing (the players), and
they were running out, I was think-
ing, 'That's a big girl, there goes
another one."'
Michigan's physical dominance is
probably best seen when looking at
the various defensive efforts that the
Wolverines have made this year. The
team has shut out its opponents 10
times, and Michigan goalie Suzie
Grech has allowed just 18 total goals
in 23 games.
"(This game) was only the second
time we've been shut out all year,"
Ward said. "On the defensive end,
Michigan did a good job."
In addition to being physically
dominating, the Wolverines have also
shown mental toughness, and coach
Debbie Rademacher feels that trait is
just as important as the physical
skills that the players have.
"I think over the course of the sea-
son we've faced all different kinds of

situations," Rademacher said. "We've
been on a winning streak, and we've
lost a few. Every time we're out there
we try to train the mental aspect of
the game. The psychological part of
the game is big."
Rademacher said that the team's
mental toughness helped the
Wolverines to generate very positive
feelings prior to the game on Satur-
day, and that ultimately helped them
to prevail.
"I think we played with a lot of
confidence," Rademacher said. "We
knew exactly the type of team we
were, and they showed that they were
a very good team. They move the
ball, they're quick, they're dangerous.
"I think we were well-prepared
and expecting that. We just found a
way to get our goals and stay tough
Senior defender and tri-captain
Andrea Kayal noted that the Wolver-
ines were forced to adjust to Pepper-
dine's style of play.
"After 20 minutes of this game,
when we got the feel for what they
were doing, we really started to tight-
en it up and put the pressure on,"
Kayal said.
One might think that with Kayal
graduating after this season, there
might be a drop-off in the level of
play. But Kayal put those thoughts
to rest.
"There's no hole that cannot be
filled," she said. "I have total confi-
dence in the players stepping up.
They'll do just fine."
The Wolverines have played hard
all season and have earned the right
to be confident. If they get down in
next week's game against Santa
Clara, it might be hard to come back.
But if you ask the Wolverines,
they'll tell you that they can handle
the pressure, no sweat.

Kickers' season
impressive despite
snub from NCAA
By Kevin Maratea
Daily Sports Writer
Its 2002 season might be over, but the Michigan men's soc-
cer team made an impact in the Big Ten this year. It just didn't
reach its loftiest goal: making the NCAA Tournament.
To illustrate how far this team has come in just three years,
it's worth taking a brief look back through its inaugural sea-
son. In 2000, with just one year of scholarship players (all
freshman), Michigan (1-5 Big Ten, 6-10-0 overall) finished
sixth in the conference and, as a sixth seed, exited the Big Ten
Tournament in the first round. It scored merely 20 goals,
while allowing a staggering 37.
In 2001, with another class of scholarship players on board,
the Wolverines (3-3 Big Ten, 10-7-1 overall) finished tied for
third in the Big Ten and then reached the semi-finals of the
Big Ten Tournament, despite being seeded fifth. The offense
collected 23 goals on the season, while its stingy defense
allowed a comparatively reasonable 26.
This year, two contrasting halves defined Michigan's 11-7-
2 season. In its first 10 matches, the Wolverines compiled a 4-
5-1 record and was unable to close the deal in close matches.
In its second half, it amassed a stalwart 7-2-1 record, includ-
ing a trip to the championship game of the Big Ten Tourna-
ment, where its season ended in a 2-1 loss to Penn State. The
offense played very well, striking a ridiculous 45 goals, while
the defense played cohesively, allowing just 27.
The progression and development of such a young team
has been phenomenal. In its first two season's, reaching the
NCAA Tournament wasn't a foreseeable season objective.
Michigan lacked enough scholarship players to be competi-
tive at the national level and, in the league, was just starting to
make a name for itself.
But this past season, Michigan built off its 2001 successes
- evident by scoring 22 more goals. But losing to Penn State
not only cost the Wolverines the Big Ten Tournament title, but
also an automatic bid to the NCAAs.
"The preparation begins (now) so next season we're not
feeling this way," Michigan coach Steve Burns said to his play-
ers, in response to the team not even receiving an at-large bid.
Just two teams from-the Big Ten were selected to the tourna-
ment, Penn State and Indiana, both of whom beat Michigan dur-
ing the regular season in one-goal games.
Overall, Michigan had a lot to be pleased with this season,
despite its absence from the tournament. Next fall, with
another class of scholarship players being added to the roster
and the loss of just one starter to graduation (tri-captain
defender Robert Turpin), Michigan should be able to contin-
ue its improving trend.

Michigan senior defender Andrea Kayal had her first two-assist game of the season as she helped the
Wolverines advance to the NCAA quarterfinals, where they will face Santa Clara.

Continued from Page 11B
"(The goal) was great," Perisi said. "I usually
don't score. I don't really care who scores though,
as long as someone scores and we keep going."
Although the goal was huge in that it made a
Pepperdine comeback seem much less likely, it
was marred by what happened three minutes later.
Heaton, looking for another goal, injured her
shoulder with 30:21 remaining when she collided
with a Pepperdine defender. She did not return to
the game.
"She dislocated her shoulder," Rademacher

said. "There's a chance she'll play next week. So
we'll do everything possible to get her on that
field. She's most likely not finished with season."
The Wolverines held on for the rest of the half
and helped junior goalkeeper Suzie Grech get her
third straight shutout and 10th overall.
Next up for the Wolverines is defending nation-
al champion Santa Clara. The game, which will
be played on Santa Clara's home field, will
undoubtedly be a challenge. But the Wolverines
aren't sweating it.
"There is no pressure on us," Rademacher said.
"We got that pressure off of getting past the sec-
ond round, so now we can just go out and play."


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