The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 9A
Redshirt freshman settles into role
By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
Beth Riley recorded six saves in Michigan's 2-0 win over Central Michigan on Tuesday.
*Riley, defense lead
stick ers tc
By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
Ten minutes into Tuesday's match
at Central Michigan, Michigan found
itself with a penalty corner oppor-
tunity. Defender Kara Lentz fired a
low shot on net and forward Jill Civic
redirected the shot past Chippewa
goalie Danielle Frank to give Michi-
gan a 1-0 lead. The goal was all the
Wolverines (4-3) needed. A swarm-
ing Michigan defense limited Central
Michigan's opportunities, and the
Wolverines' goalie Beth Riley did
the rest, making six saves to record
her first shutout of the season in No.
8 Michigan's 2-0 win.
"It's always nice to have a shutout,"
Riley said. "I think it's really good
for the team. It's a confidence builder
to know that we can do it, and we've
done it before."
Riley and the Michigan defense did
a great job of playing together to keep
the Chippewas scoreless. Working
with the defense and keeping a men-
tal edge are the two things Riley has
been emphasizing this season.
"I always want to focus on commu-
nicating with my team and directing
the defense to keep myself mentally
in the game, even when I am not fac-
ing a lot of shots," Riley said. "When
I am facing a lot of shots, and if I
give up a goal, I work on resetting my
mental attitude and just take every
shot as it is, put those goals in the
past and refocus."
Riley showed what the right men-
tality can do in Tuesday's match. She
and the Michigan defense played their
toughest when Central Michigan (2-
3) had chances to get on the board.
The Chippewas had 1I penalty corner
opportunities in the match, but failed
to convert on any of them. In con-
trast to Central Michigan's struggles,
Michigan was able to capitalize on
two of its I1 penalty corner chances,
which proved to be the difference in
the Wolverines' victory.
Another credit to Michigan's stel-
lar defense is that, in shutting out
Central Michigan, the Wolverines
held Chippewas' star forward, Alicia
Balanesi, scoreless for the first time
Michigan forward Katie Morris
continued her assault on opposing
defenses. After notching game-win-
ning goals in both of the Wolverines'
matches last weekend - includ-
ing tallying a hat trick on Saturday
- Morris found the net once again
Tuesday, extending Michigan's lead
to two just before halftime. Morris
has six of the Wolverines' 12 total
goals this season.
"I'm getting a lot of chances and
making the most of them," Morris
said. "Scoring goals is my job as a for-
ward, so I'm just playing my role."
Even though the win was Michigan's
fourth straight, the Wolverines aren't
allowing themselves to get overconfident.
"We're always happy to get the
wins, but, at the same time, we know
we still have a lot to work on," Morris
said. "We're not where we want to be
yet, but we'll keep taking the wins as
The Wolverines will look to extend
their winning streak to five in a row
when they host Vermont on Sunday at
Phyllis Ocker field.
In one moment, everything can come together.
For redshirt freshman Mara Martin, that moment
came when she was walking off the court dur-
ing the Michigan volleyball team's loss to No. I
Nebraska last week.
Coach Mark Rosen looked over at Martin, who
was sitting at the far end of the bench and asked
if she was having fun. Martin, the team's start-
ing setter, looked back over and gave her coach a
smile from ear-to-ear. From that point on, every-
thing has been going better than planned for Mar-
tin and the Wolverines.
"She was sweating like crazy, and you could
tell she was exhausted," Rosen said. "And she
just looked back at me and gave me this great
smile, and it wasn't BS, and it wasn't fake. I
knew at that time that she had adjusted to the
speed, and she was comfortable and (could) just
compete and play."
Ever since the game against Nebraska, Mar-
tin has been improving with every practice and
game. Her positive attitude has allowed her to
take what Rosen teaches her and help her game.
"When (Rosen) asked me if I was having fun it
just made me feel good to know that he noticed
it, too," Martin said. "I know he probably had
some doubts in me as well starting off, but he
knew that I could get it done. And that made me
feel really good."
Rosen isn't the only one that has noticed Mar-
tin's daily improvement and confidence boost. Her
teammates are constantly in awe of how quickly
she is catching on to the speed of the college game
and how far she has come since the start of her
"Mara has taken some huge strides, and she has
really come into her own," junior captain Erin
Cobler said. "She has been playing with her own
personality and with a lot of confidence, and it's
working because she has become a very, very solid
setter for us. I have a lot of confidence in her.
"That confidence comes from seeing how hard
she works both in practice and after practice. She
really earned my respect, and I don't have any
hesitation about her being in that spot at all."
Martin came into Michigan as a very raw play-
er who had potential but simply lacked the expe-
rience to immediately contribute to the team.
After spending all of last year and this past sum-
mer in the gym, Martin won the role of starting
setter for the Wolverines. At the team's annual
summer camp, Rosen was worried about Mar-
tin's progression and feared she might be beat
out by another teammate for the starting slot.
But when the team ~resumed a regular practice
schedule, Martin shocked her coach and team-
mates, coming into the gym strong and blowing
away the competition.
"I spent every single day over the summer train-
Redshirt freshman Mara Martin's offseason training allowed her to grab the starting setter spot for Michigan.
ing and running and working hard so that when
we came back, I would be ready," Martin said. "I
really wanted to get the starting job and I knew
that was my only chance to get it. I didn't want to
Despite having some trouble getting into the
swing of things on the court, it couldn't have
been easier for Martin to become friends with her
teammates. She is particularly close to sophomore
captains Lyndsay Miller and Katie Bruzdzinski,
and the three of them have been nicknamed the
"coneheads." Martin's teammates came up with
the name after watching the movie Miracle, since
that was the nickname given to three players on
the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team who were
always by each other's side.
"We just realized that we are the coneheads
because everything we do is together no matter
what," Martin said. "Katie is pass because she
passes me the ball, I'm shoot because I shoot the
ball and Lyndsay is score because she scores."
The chemistry between Martin and her team-
mates greatly eased Martin's transition into the
starting spot. After helping the Wolverines win their
last four games, it's clear that Martin is comfortable
in her new role as the team's "quarterback."
"She's not afraid to compete at this level any-
more, and she's not overburdened by it," Rosen
said. "In fact, she is loving it. "She has that men-
tality to work hard, and I think she is just going
to continue improving and learning. She is going
to be great."
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