12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 29, 2005
Versatility helps Banco excel
By Daniel Bromwich
Daily Sports Writer
Last fall, sophomore Sarah Banco didn't play a single minute
of a single game as a midfielder on the Michigan women's soccer
team. During the spring, she tried defense during the non-com-
This fall, the coaches moved her to forward and have commit-
ted to keeping her there. And Banco just might have found a new
Banco scored the first goal of her career on her first career shot
last Friday night against Ohio State. She also has played exten-
sively in each of the nine soccer games the No. 22 Wolverines
(1-0-0 Big Ten, 5-2-2 overall) have had this year.
"People who are willing to work hardup there and create turn-
overs and are also able to score goals are hard to find," assistant
coach Dan Dalzochio said. "Sarah is opportunistic, and she can
score. Kids that can score goals are special players, so if you
can move somebody into a position like that and they can create
goals, I think that's a bonus."
Banco originally played midfielder on her club soccer team,
and, when she first came to Michigan, that's where coach Debbie
Rademacher played her. But the Wolverines play with three mid-
fielders as opposed to four, and Banco couldn't find a spot to play.
The coaches wanted to get her on the field, so they switched her to
defense before eventually committing to playing her at forward.
But Banco handled all of the switches with ease.
"She's a very versatile soccer player," senior Therese Heaton
said. "One day Debbie has her at midfield, one day at defense, and
then at forward. But you wouldn't be able to tell that from watch-
ing her play because she adapts really well."
But the constant changing positions didn't affect Banco nega-
tively. She attributes part of her easy transition to forward to her
time playing defense.
"Even though I was playing defense in the spring, just getting
a chance to practice the physical play and the speed of play was
really helpful," Banco said. "The move (to forward) was unex-
pected, but it wasn't too difficult. When you play soccer, you''
know the general game, so there are some things that are differ-
ent but (the switch) wasn't too bad."
Banco's work ethic is one of the main reasons she could accli-
mate herself so seamlessly.
"She's up there in the top five on the team in terms of work
ethic Dalzochio said. Whether its in practice or in the games,
we know she'll work just as hard as the person next to her, so we
are very comfortable with her in the game."
Banco has been a consistent presence in games. She enters
about 20-30 minutes into the match, and the coaches look for her
to provide an offensive spark for the team. The Medfield, Mass.,&
native scored her first career point with an assist in a win over
Western Michigan on Sept. 16 and regularly forces turnovers that .
lead to Michigan goals.
Now that she has an increased role on the team, Banco pre-
pares a little differently and more carefully for games. 6 :>
"I definitely have to be more prepared and better rested coming S y.5
to games this year," Banco said. "I try to make sure I get a lot of
sleep and stay focused."
The coaches have seen the improvement, and Banco is usually
the first reserve off the bench. They like the spark Banco pro-
vides as a reserve, but she might get a start later in the season.
"Eventually I do want to start, but right now I'm very comfort-
able with my role," Banco said. "People on the field don't really
expect me to come in and do much, so it's kind of nice to be able
to hide out there."
Banco better enjoy her anonymity on the field while she can TOMMASO GOMEZ/Daily
because pretty soon teams will start taking notice. Banco's teammates and coaches are thankful that her athleticism has allowed her to play multiple positions.
New partners must lead team
By David VandeVusse
For the Daily
After two years of playing alongside
Michelle DaCosta, junior Kara Delicata
of the Michigan women's tennis team is
in search of a new doubles partner.
Delicata and DaCosta enjoyed great
success last year, boasting an impressive
25-11 doubles record. But with DaCosta's
graduation and departure from the team,
a new lineup will have to be formed. Deli-
cata is currently paired with senior team-
mate Nina Yaftali.
"Nina and I have no match experience
together," Delicata said. "It's a new expe-
rience (playing with her)."
Despite their lack of on-court famil-
iarity with one another, the duo has high
expectations, receiving a preseason rank-
ing of 30th nationally.
Last season, Yaftali led the Wolverines
in overall singles victories with 24, while
Delicata did the same in doubles.
"I was really surprised (when I found
I was paired with Kara) because I don't
have much doubles experience," Yaftali
said. "I can learn so much from her."
Despite their high ranking, the tandem
of Delicata and Yaftali is still no more
than an experiment.
"It remains to be seen (whether or not
the two will play together during the sea-
son)," 22-year veteran coach Bitsy Ritt
The fall and winter months will be
critical for Delicata and Yaftali since
they will have a chance to get used to
one another's playing styles and develop
chemistry. Training 20 hours per week,
the pair will have plenty of time to famil-
iarize themselves with one another. The
two also understand the significance of
being in tune with one another away from
"Being able to be friends off the court
is so important, and Nina and I are pretty
close," Delicata said.
Although their doubles partnership is
not set in stone yet, the two are moti-
vated to find success both now and dur-
ing the regular season, which kicks off
"The offseason is a chance to prove
yourself as an individual," Yaftali said.
"During the season, there is a transition
- it becomes less about you and 100 per-
cent about the team."
Aside from the unsettled No. 1 doubles
position, there is the question of leadership
for the Wolverines. Not only did they lose
captain Michelle DaCosta from last year's
squad, but they also lost senior co-captain
Leanne Rutherford. The void these two
standouts left creates a big opportunity
for current players, such as Delicata and
Yaftali, to step up and steer the tennis pro-
gram in the right direction.
"As a senior, I need to lead," Yaftali
Delicata echoed similar sentiments.
"It's important for all upperclassmen to
show a leadership role," she said.
Delicata and Yaftali will have an oppor-
tunity to mesh as a pair this weekend when
they head California for the Riviera/ITA
All-American Championships. While they
are gone, five of the nine members of the
women's tennis team will be in action in Ann
Arbor where the team will host the Wolver-
ine Invitational at the Varisty Tennis Center.
Junior Kara Delicata will be one of two upperclassmen expected, to step up and lead the Wolverines this season.