2B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - November 28, 2005
Road to title anything but smooth
Atee ftch WBaee
Athlete of the Week
Name: Ryan Churella
By Kimberly Chou
For the Daily
Preseason apprehensions and relentless opponents
be damned. At a university that places such great
emphasis on Big Ten varsity athletics, the Michigan
Women's Club Soccer Team has earned the respect
that accompanies three national championships in
Capping off an undefeated season, the women's soccer
club defeated Colorado State in overtime to take home
the NIRSA National Collegiate Club Championship in
Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 19.
Such a finish was the stuff of dreams when the team
began preparing for its seventh season with coach Michael
Newman. Returning fewer than half of last year's team,
Newman wasn't necessarily expecting another club soc-
"The funny thing is, we had a mindset going into the
season that it was possibly going to be a rebuilding year
and that we may not make the national championship
(with) such a young team," Newman said.
Even with a lack of veterans and low turnout at tryouts,
the team surpassed expectations.
"The talent and focus and level of play (this year)
was just phenomenal," Newman said. "About mid-
season, we looked at each other and just said, 'Let's
win this thing.' "
To win the title, the Wolverines had to play six games
over a three-day weekend - more than varsity athletes
are ever asked to do, according to Newman - and they
forced their way through nail-biting wins in the semifinal
and final rounds.
Playing Colorado in the semifinals, the teams were
tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. Neither side scored dur-
ing overtime due to tight defense from both sides, leading
to a shootout. Senior captain and goalkeeper Bre Ben-
nett saved all three of Colorado's penalty kicks, while
Michigan converted all three of their goal attempts for
The championship game was an overtime decision
also, but that almost didn't happen. On the verge of being
shutout by Colorado State, junior captain and defense-
man Dana Restrick evened the score with six minutes
left to play in regulation.
"It was an unreal goal - off the post and went in to
set up sudden death-overtime," senior captain and fellow
defenseman Epstein said.
Freshman forward Katie Miller - goalless during
tournament weekend - broke away from the defense in
overtime, notching the game-winner.
"I think it's way more rewarding (winning the close
games) at Nationals," kestrick said. "We kind of breezed
through earlier in the season - didn't have many close
games. At nationals, it just goes to show you how com-
petitive it is there."
Said Epstein: "(With all the hard work) I think for
everybody it would have kind a disappointment if we
hadn't won. We had our goals set really, really high."
Alongside goalie Bennett and midfielder Kelsey Lutz,
Epstein is one of the seniors on the team - all of whom
were freshmen when the soccer club last won the NIRSA
tournament in 2002.
"Our No. 1 (goal) was to leave (the other) 21 players
with the experience (and) the knowledge of exactly what
it takes to win a national tournament," Epstein said.
The Wolverines showed what it takes to win without
the perks of varsity athletics - a women's club soccer
team does not make the front page of the paper with key
wins, nor do they get big-name sponsors for warmups
"I look at the (girls), and it's just amazing," Newman
said. "They have to carry a full load: they don't get tutors,
they don't (have scholarships), and they do all of this stuff.
And they do it without complaining - the girls are there
because they want to be, not because they have to be."
Restrick said: "We play for each other. Obviously,
we're there because we want to, and the bond that we
form with our teammates is amazing and it definitely
comes out on the field."
That bond, formed over the fight for loose balls and
respect, has created one of the closest teams Epstein has
ever played on.
As for the future, there's a title to defend.
Why: Churella cemented the Wolverine victory against Penn
State when he recorded a victory by fall in the 165-pound match.
Facing Phil Bomberger, Churella recorded a pair of knockdowns
and took a 9-0 lead. Then, the fifth-year senior captured the win
by positioning Bomberger in a near-side cradle to score a fall.
11/29 M Basketball vs. Miami (Fla.)
11/30 W Basketball vs. Central Michigan
12/01 M Swimming/Diving
at Texas Invitational
12/02 M Track/Field
Maize and Blue Intrasquad
12/02 M Swimming/Diving
at Texas Invitational
12/02 W Swimming/Diving
at Eastern Michigan Invitational
12/02 Wrestling at Cliff Keen Invitational
12/03 W Swimming/Diving
at Eastern Michigan Invitational
12/03 M Swimming/Diving
at Texas Invitational
12/03 M Basketball at Notre Dame
12/03 W Basketball vs. Maine
12/03 Ice Hockey at Miami (Ohio)
12/03 Wrestling at Cliff Keen Invitational
Churella duo slays the Nittany Lions
By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan wrestling team found out that they have
the persistence of champions on Saturday, surmounting an
early deficit in the Big Ten opener.
No. 3 Michigan dug out of a 12-3 hole against No. 12
Penn State to win 23-15. The Wolverines struggled early,
dropping three of the first four matches. Only after redshirt
junior Josh Churella won his match at 141 pounds did the
Nittany Lions' momentum cease. Michigan then rattled off
victories in four of the last five matches to roll to a win.
The start of the meet at State College didn't go as the
Wolverines envisioned. Fifth-year senior co-captain Greg
Wagner won his match against Aaron Anspach, 8-2, in the
heavyweight bout. But he was the lone Wolverine to win
his match in the meet's first four contests, putting the team
behind by a 12-3 deficit.
"You never like to get behind like that," Michi-
gan coach Joe McFarland said. "It especially got the
momentum on their side, and their fans got a little loud.
I think Josh Churella did a good job of getting things
back in our corner again."
Churella, ranked seventh in the country at 141 pounds,
scored a major decision 9-1 over DeWitt Driscoll to earn
four points for Michigan, inching them closer to the lead.
The redshirt sophomore scored early and often in the 141-
pound match. After opening the match with an early take-
down, he took down his opponent again in the first period
and scored a reversal from the down position in the second
period to take a 6-1 advantage into the third. The crucial
point in the match came with fewer than 10 seconds left,
where Churella was able to score a final takedown. The last-
second takedown in addition to his one point for riding time
was enough to give him the major decision, which added an
extra point to Michigan's team score.
"Josh is always ready to score first," McFarland said.
"He scored the first takedown right away, and he kept pil-
ing on the points. Then he got a takedown with under ten
seconds left to earn an extra team point. Those are some of
things that as a coach you really appreciate."
Redshirt sophomore Eric Tannenbaum, ranked second
nationally, followed up Churella's win with a dominating
victory of his own. The 149-pound Tannenbaum defeated
James Woodall, 10-4.
After Tannenbaum's win Penn State's lead was only 12-
10 heading into the 157-pound match that pitted the Wol-
verines' 19th-ranked redshirt freshman Steve Luke and
Penn State's 10th-ranked Nathan Galloway. Luke was able
to fight off a late comeback by Galloway to garner an 11-9
victory in his Big Ten debut.
"Nerves were a factor," Luke said. "But I got the win,
and that's all that matters."
Luke controlled the match for the first two frames, scor-
ing a pair of takedowns in the first period along with a
takedown in the second period. With Luke up 9-3 in the
third, and looking for a major decision, Galloway surged
back by taking down the Wolverine freshman twice in
the third period. In the end Luke held off Galloway's late
comeback to persevere.
"Steve really dominated the first two periods," McFar-
land said. "He started coasting a little bit and tried to pro-
tect his lead instead of trying to score more points. But for
it being his first match and being in the tough place that it
was, I thought he did a great job."
Luke's win gave the Wolverines a 13-12 team lead, and
they never looked back.
Fifth-year senior co-captain Ryan Churella pinned
Phil Bomberger at 165-pounds, giving Michigan a
nearly insurmountable 19-12 lead with two matches
remaining. After No. 8 Nick Roy, a redshirt junior,
lost his match at 174 pounds, the Wolverines' lead was
cut to four. But redshirt freshman Tyrell Todd quieted
the crowd and eliminated any doubt Michigan had of
winning the meet. He dominated the 184-pound match
against Neil Bretz, earning an 18-5 major decision. His
win sealed the victory for Michigan.
"Overall, I was happy with how we performed," McFar-
land said. "They were a couple weeks ahead of us. They
already had a couple weeks of competition. But I like where
we are at, and it's great to get off to a good start."
Junior Josh Churella helped the Wolverines rebound from an early 12-3 deficit.
THE MICHIGAN DAILY HYPOTHETICAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
Nor_ 1 Sonuthern Cal~
INV. 1 JVULIMIll %-Ul JU
For those of you who have dreamed of a playoff in college football, the Daily
Sports staff has what you've been looking for. In a painstaking process drawn
purely on our instincts, we have compiled a fantasy playoff bracket for you and
your friends to talk about while your professor rambles on during lecture.
No. 1 Texas
No. 8 Toledo
No. 8 Boise State
No. 4 Miami 24
41 No. 4 Notre Dame
No. 5 West Virginia
No. 3 Virginia Tech
No. 5 Auburn
37 No. 3 Ohio State
No. 6 Oregon
No. 6 UCLA
No. 2 Penn St. 10
24 No. 2 Louisiana State
.)T LVUlalall" vLQL%.
No. 7 TCU
No. 7 Central Florida
What were our criteria? The BCS stays and
determines the top-12 teams in the 16-team
tournament (Sorry Alabama and Georgia
fans). The remaining bids go to the champions of the
mid-major conferences, with the exception of the Sun
Belt conference (They were allowed to send North
Texas to a bowl game despite the Mean Green having
an overall record of 5-6 in 2001. Ridiculous).
The first round began on Dec. 10 and took place
at campus sites, with the higher-seeded team host-
ing. Southern Cal, Virginia Tech and Louisiana
easily - but the Fiesta Bowl was a nail-biter.
Vince Young and the Longhorns drove down
the field, picking apart the Fighting Irish defense.
Countering the Texas attack, Notre Dame quar-
terback Brady Quinn threw for four touchdowns
and demi-god Charlie Weis drew up an effec-
tive gameplan to stretch the Longhorns' daunting
defense. Down by two with five seconds left in the
game, Texas set up for a 40-yard field goal to win
the game, but a sudden gust of wind in the Tempe
air pushed the kick wide right and Notre Dame
with the win to earn a spot in the championship
game, and a chance to avenge the split national
championship in 2003.
On Jan. 2, Louisiana State and Southern Cal
battled in the Michigan Daily National Champi-
onship Bowl, played in the basement of 420 May-
nard Street in Ann Arbor.
In the highly anticipated matchup between
powerhouses Southern Cal and Louisiana, South-
ern Cal proved too much for the Tigers to handle.
Southern Cal pulled ahead 26-23 with 2:43 left,