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November 06, 2003 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-06

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 6, 2003


Shorthanded netters
look for redemption

Surging Blue ready for Big Tens

By Kyle Carpenter
Daily Sports Writer
On a normal Tuesday practice,
there wouldn't be the butterflies,
there wouldn't be the apprehension
and there wouldn't be the nervous

edge. But this practice
was different.
There was a certain
tension in the air at the
Varsity Tennis Center
Despite having a total
of six players compete
in the Midwest Region-
al championships last
weekend, the Wolver-

Indoor Charm
Time: All d
through S
Varsity Tenn

play such high caliber matches is an
honor and a privilege, and he could-
n't have reached that level without
the help of others.
"I want to thank all the people
around me; the coaches and team-
mates that have helped me get where
I am," Michael said.
- ' The top 32 singles
AY players in the nation and
the top 16 doubles teams
atITA. will go head-to-head
pionships starting today in Ann
ay today Arbor. The Wolverines
unday are sharpening up their
is Center game for all the added
"We don't want to put
additional pressure on ourselves,"

ines were not able to produce any
qualifying players for the tourna-
ment. Now junior Michael Rubin is
looking to redeem himself in a tour-
nament featuring some of the best
players in the nation.
The only reason Michigan will be
allowed wildcard entries in the ITA
Indoor Championship tournament is
because the Wolverines are the tour-
nament host. Rubin will play singles,
and Anthony Jackson and Brian Hung
will represent the team in doubles.
Rubin was ranked third going into
last week's tournament, but was upset
in the first round by Louisville's
Damar Johnson. He feels the loss
won't affect his play this weekend,
and his teammate/brother Carey -
who will be watching from the side-
lines - agrees.
"You can't get too low about a loss,
and you can't get too high from a
good win," Carey said. "We have;
played a lot of tennis, and Mike is
real good at (staying levelheaded)."
Michael Rubin feels that despite
the pressure and competition this
weekend, he will be prepared.
"It's a matter of going out and
playing your best and seeing where
the chips fall," Michael said. "And I
just want to play my best."
Michael feels that the chance to

Michigan coach Mark Mees said.
"You've got to use (the attention) as a
positive, not as a tension builder; use
it to motivate you and not put pres-
sure on you."
For the past nine years, the ITA
Indoor Tournament has been held in
Dallas. According to Mees, when
Michigan was given the opportunity
to host the prestigious event, it
jumped on it.
With only three players competing,
the rest of the team is left to prepare
for the Big Ten singles tournament,
which will also be held in Ann Arbor
next weekend.
On the sidelines, they will also wit-
ness firsthand the best collegiate ten-
nis players in the nation.
"Watching the best 32 players in
the country, you can really learn a
lot," Carey Rubin said. "Being
around that helps all individuals for
the future."
At times, Carey finds it difficult to
integrate himself into a team mindset
with so much attention on individual
performance, but feels the focus is
"Everyone wants to do well indi-
vidually, which helps the team as a
whole," he said. "It makes the team

By Melanie Kebler
Daisy Sports Writer
Under the bright lights of Notre
Dame's Alumni Field in South Bend,
Ind., Michigan women's soccer coach
Debbie Rademacher paced the side-
lines, standing and shouting instruc-
tion to her players. Time was ticking
away in the second half and the
Wolverines held the 3-2 lead. Three ...
two ... one ... suddenly Rademacher's
face was aglow as she let out a
resounding "Yeah!" and heartily
embraced her assistant. It was her
125th career win as Michigan's head
coach and her first over the Irish.
"We've been trying to beat Notre
Dame for 10 years now and those girls
knew that it was going to be tough,"
said Rademacher. "We were not intim-
idated, and we fought hard."
To say the moment was an emotion-
al one wouldn't do it justice. The
unranked Wolverines had scored three
times on the No. 2 team in the country,
beating them for the first time in the
history of the Michigan program. The
win validated a team that knew all
along it had the talent, and only need-
ed to find the final component -
The season started slowly for the
Wolverines, as was expected after the
loss of six seniors, including 2002 Big
Ten Athlete of the Year, Abby Crump-
ton. Crumpton led a talented team on
an unexpected run to the NCAA quar-
terfinals last year, after Michigan start-
ed 5-0 and finished 13-5-1. This year's
team began the season in the exact
opposite way, going 0-3-2 before get-
ting its first win against Iowa State.
"It's hard to just put it together and
think it's going to be a repeat of last
year," said Crumpton, who regularly
attended home games this year. "You
have to rebuild after you lose so many
seniors. It just takes time and practice."
This year's young team hasn't had it
easy. Besides returning no starters on
the defensive back line, the offense
also had to be revamped while experi-
enced attackers such as sophomore
Therese Heaton - who had to recover

Michigan regrouped since Kate Morgan (right) went down with a broken leg.

from summer surgery - missed time.
And just when things were starting to
click offensively in the middle of the
season, forward Kate Morgan - who
led the team in goals at the time -
suffered a broken leg in the game
against Penn State on Oct. 5. The
offense began to struggle again in the
2-0 loss to Penn State and the two ties
following. Michigan could only muster
one goal during all three of those
"We have some attackers that came
in not 100 percent because they had
surgeries, and things that didn't allow
them to be 100 percent at preseason,
and we had a couple broken legs to
forwards," Rademacher said. "It's the
little things that are a big factor in your
offense's output."
Over the entire season the Wolver-

ines have had trouble scoring and fin-
ishing goals to win games, despite
solid efforts by the defense. Freshman
goalkeeper Megan Tuura has exceeded
expectations in net - recording a .47
goals-against average while splitting
time with senior Suzie Grech - and
freshman backs Lindsay Cottrell and
Brenna Mulholland looked like they
had been winning headballs and tack-
ling opponents at Michigan for years.
But without goals, it's hard to win.
The offensive struggles led to six ties
on the year, a record for Michigan.
But, Rademacher says, the team never
looked to place blame on individuals.
"It's been frustrating tying, but
they're never pointing fingers, ever,"
Rademacher said. "They just keep
plugging away. That's the thing about
this team, they just pick it up and come

out and practice even harder."
At this point, Michigan was just 3-
5-6 and in need of more points in order
to secure a spot in the Big Ten Tourna-
ment. Maybe it was the letdown of a
loss against Purdue - in which the
Boilermakers scored in the last 22 sec-
onds of regulation to bring the game to
a tie. Maybe it was the fact that since
1998 the program had always held a
winning record. But whatever the rea-
son, Michigan started winning games
and building confidence.
With Morgan out, senior Stephanie
Chavez and freshman Katie Kramer
stepped into the gap and began to pro-
duce for the offense. The two com-
bined for game-winning goals in the
contests against Iowa and Central
Michigan, and Chavez notched the
overtime clincher against Michigan
State to extend the Michigan winning
streak to three. The momentum was
building, and not even a loss to Kansas
just three days before the matchup
with Notre Dame could keep the
Wolverines down.
"There is such great chemistry on
this team, I mean, we all get along so
well, that I think that is the basis we
have to build on," sophomore mid-
fielder Stephanie Boyles said.
"Because of that chemistry we've got-
ten better and better."
There's no denying that expectations
were high this year, especially after the
2002 team's feats in the postseason.
But with this women's soccer program,
expectations are always high.
Rademacher explained that every year,
the team expects to make a serious bid
for the Big Ten title as well as qualify
for the NCAA Tournament. But linger-
ing in the immediate past - well,
there's no point in that.
"We don't even focus on last year,"
Rademacher said. "You don't talk
about what has been, what we did.
That's not going to help us this year."
Crumpton agreed that dwelling on
previous success is not helpful.
"The team, from year to year, is
totally different," Crumpton said.
"When I was there, you didn't draw on
the past because you had an entirely
new team. We never really focused on
the past - it's the past."
Rademacher said of this year's team:
"I don't think the girls feel the pressure
that they have to be like last year's
team, but they always feel the pressure
that, hey, this is Michigan and we are a
winning program."
With the win over Notre Dame late
in the season, Michigan became that
winning team, and not just on paper.
The victory meant much more than a
possible NCAA berth.
It was a defining moment for a team
that struggled to find itself like no
Michigan women's soccer team had
done before. And with the postseason
still ahead, the Wolverines have even
more chances to prove that they defi-
nitely are a part of the winning tradi-
tion that has been so prominent under
"We have all the components talent-
wise, I think we just need to come
together and step up to the plate and
do it," Boyles said.
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