The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.como
Monday, October 30, 2006 - 3B
By ROBERT KAITZ
Daily Sports Writer
EAST LANSING - The play was just about
as nice as the weather. And, unfortunately for
the Michigan women's soccer team, so was the
The Wolverines lost MICHIGAN 0
a 1-0 decision to in-state MICHIGAN STATE 1
rival Michigan State on
acold, windy and rainy Friday afternoon inEast
A goal from Spartan Jenee Witherspoon in
the 63rd minute ended Michigan's season-high
six-game unbeaten streak in the regular season
"It was a really choppy game, and we couldn't
get any flow going today," Michigan coach Deb-
bie Rademacher said.
For Michigan State (4-6 Big Ten, 8-9-1 over-
all), the game was a must-win - a loss or tie
would leave it out of the Big Ten Tournament
and end its season. The Wolverines, already
with a spot in the tournament, were looking to
improve their seeding, with an opportunity to
finish as high as third. The loss kept them in the
fifth position in the Big Ten standings.
"They were in a desperate situation, and they
made ita sloppy game," senior co-captain Kate-
lin Spencer said.
Both teams struggled with the wet field con-
ditions, committing a combined 34 fouls.
The Spartans generated the game's first
serious offensive chance. A corner kick in the
eighth minute led to a dangerous header that
senior goalkeeper Megan Tuura punched out of
But Michigan (4-3-3, 8-6-5) responded, win-
ning three consecutive corners and putting
three shots on goal. Neither team could keep
consistent offensive pressure, and the game
reached halftime scoreless.
The second half featured more opportunities
for both teams. The Wolverines almost opened
up the scoring when Spencer headed senior
striker Judy Coffman's corner toward the top of
the net. Spartan goalkeeper Nicole Galas stayed
on the goalline and snagged it out of the air.
The game's lone goal came at 62:06. Michi-
gan State's Lauren Sinacola found space at the
top of the 18-yard box and unloaded a shot that
soared over a lunging Tuura, hit the crossbar
and bounced straight down, where Wither-
spoon tapped the ball in.
Michigan controlled possession for the
majority of the remainder of the game, but
couldn't find the tying marker.
"They were good at putting numbers behind
the ball, especially after the goal," Rademacher
The visitors put a scare into the crowd with
a few dangerous opportunities as time wound
down. Off a Michigan free kick, junior midfield-
er Katie Bohard found herself with the ball in
open space on the left side of the penalty box.
A Spartan defender partially deflected her shot
and the ball hit harmlessly off the outside of the
post and out-of-bounds.
Then, luck almost intervened to send the
game to overtime. Sophomore midfielder Katie
Miler made a run down the right side of the field
with less than half a minute left. She sent a cross
to the box that tailed toward the net and almost
caught Galas out of position. But Galas punched
the ball out of trouble, and the fat lady could
After the disappointing loss, Michigan must
recover quickly. It will face fourth-seeded Indiana
on Thursday in State College for the first round of
the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan lost its only
meeting with the Hoosiers 2-1 on Oct. 1, but is
ready to step up its play for the tournament.
"When we play teams of a higher caliber, we
play up to the competition," Spencer said.
By DANIEL BROMWICH
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - Ohio State basketball coach
Thad Matta challenges someone, anyone, to
tell him that there is a precedent for this year's
college basketball rankings.
"I don't think it's ever happened before,"
Matta said at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago
yesterday. "Never before has a team finished a
season ranked sixth in the country, lost 80 per-
cent of its starting lineup and been ranked even
higher the following season."
The Buckeyes will begin their season ranked
fourth in the nation, and they were picked by
Big Ten media to win the conference this year
as well. Ohio State returns all-conference
third-team point guard Jamar Butler, who fin-
ished second in the Big Ten in assists per game
last year, but not a single other starter.
The Buckeyes' ranking is largely due to their
freshman class, ranked tops in the nation. That
class is highlighted by 7-foot center Greg Oden,
universally ranked the nation's top prospect
and unanimously considered to be an eventual
No. 1 overall draft pick.
Expected to have the same sort of immedi-
ateimpactthatLebronJames wouldhave made
if he had attended college, Oden is already
making history. Even with the wrist surgery
that will keep him on the bench until Janu-
ary, Oden was named to the preseason All-Big
Ten team. This is the first time a freshman has
been named to the team since at least the 1993-
94 season (records of preseason nominations
were not prior to then).
A team on the opposite end of the spectrum
is Wisconsin, which returns four of its five
starters from last year and three of its top four
scorers. Senior forward Alando Tucker led the
Big Ten in scoring last season with 19 points
per game, and teammate Kammron Taylor
finished third, tallying 14.2 points per contest.
Junior Lucia Belassi scored two goals in Michigan's 31 win over Northwestern.
go out on top
Michigan kicked off its 2006-07 season with the annual Maize and Blue scrimmage on Saturday.
Tucker, who is the only player in Badger his-
tory besides Michael Finley to top 1,500 points
prior to his senior season, was named the Big
Ten Preseason Player of the Year.
But even with seniors Tucker, Taylor, Jason
Chappell and junior forward Brian Butch
returning, Wisconsin was ranked behind Ohio
State both in the conference and nationally
At least one Big Ten star disagrees with this
"I think Wisconsin probably should have
been picked at the top," Michigan State point
guard Drew Neitzel said. "They have the most
experience, and the most talent coming back."
But Butch doesn't care much for the pre-
dictions, regardless of where the Badgers are
"For us, it's a preseason ranking," Butch
said. "(Being ranked second) is nice, it's a nice
honor, but overall, we're worried about what
happens in the end. Any player that you talk to,
that's the main thing - the end."
Illinois was a surprising choice to finish
third in the conference, given the loss of for-
ward James Augustine and guard Dee Brown
to the NBA Draft.
Big Ten Beef: Indianapolis high school
senior Eric Gordon, ranked as 2007's top
recruit in the country by Rivals.com, has
stirred up some serious hostility among Big Ten
coaches. Gordon verbally committed to Il i-
nois last November, but after Kelvin Sampson
was hired as Indiana's head coach, he began
to recruit Gordon. His persistence paid off.
Gordon reneged on his commitment to Illinois
and recently announced his intention to attend
Indiana next year. Weber was furious and indi-
cated at Big Ten Media Day that he would not
have an amicable relationship with Sampson.
"If you have a kid (orally) committed, then
for that eight or nine months you don't recruit
anyone else," Weber told espn.com. "So you
lose all that time recruiting other kids; because
you have one committed. Ask 98 percent of
the coaches, and they'll tell you that they stop
calling kids once they (orally commit). We do.
Most do it."
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker also
weighed in with his opinion on this controver-
sial recruiting battle as well. In the past couple
years, Amaker has lost several recruits who
had previously verbally committed to Michi-
ganc and then decided to go elsewhere.
"I've been a part of losing two kids from a
de-commitment standpoint," Amaker said. "I
think you are goingto see more of it. I think it's
a sign of the times."
By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
The Wolverines couldn't have
asked for more for their graduat-
ing field hockey players on Senior
Day. Michigan's 3-1 win over North-
western had drama, suspense, great
goals and, best of all, a happy ending
for the outgoing seniors.
"It makes it extra special to come
back on back-to-back Sundays and
win against Northwestern, aBig Ten
team, after having lost in overtime
to a Big Ten team (Ohio State) - a
Big Ten team who outright won the
Big Ten championship last Sunday,"
Michigan coach Nancy Cox said.
Junior forward and team catalyst
Lucia Belassi got things going early
with a goal at 3:35 in the first half.
The play began when junior Jilli-
anne Whitfield hit senior tri-cap-
tain Mary Fox with a perfect pass
halfway up the field. After junior
Ashley Lennington controlled of
the ball, she drove down toward
the circle and passed it in to Belas-
si, who shot it past Northwestern's
goalie, Emily Kyle.
Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 11-8 over-
all) kept the pressure on for most of
the first half. The Wildcats (1-5 Big
Ten, 7-11 overall) didn't record their
first shot on goal until just two min-
ern still made its chances count.
With nine seconds left in the
half, Northwestern took its third
corner. A pile-up developed at
the mouth of the Michigan goal,
with four Wildcats all driving at
the ball. Finally, sophomore Alex-
andra Quinn forced the ball past
Michigan goalie Beth Riley, tying
For many teams, this would
have been a huge shift in momen-
tum. A less resolute Michigan team
wouldn't have recovered.
But the Wolverines weren't about
to lose on Senior Day. They weren't
going to lose the last game of the
regular season to a team they had
beaten in each of the last 14 meet-
ings. They weren't going to go into
the Big Ten Tournament with losses
to their last two Big Ten opponents.
"I hope all the time that every-
body's trying hard, but Ithink we all
knew in the back of our minds that
today meant a little more, especially
for the seniors," Fox said. "This was
a good test today to see if we could
come out in the second half."
Michigan passed the test with
flying colors, immediately pres-
suring Northwestern in its end.
The Wolverines had chance after
chance, but couldn't score.
But with about 10 minutes to go,
Belassi came up big once again. At
61:01, the junior received a spot-on
pass fromjunior tri-captain Eleanor
Martin and tipped it past the goalie
to put Michigan ahead 2-1.
Two minutes later, freshman
Kelly Fitzpatrick sealed the victory,
blasting a line shot into the back of
Despite the momentum-boosting
win, Cox was quick to give credit to
"The thing you have to applaud
Northwestern about today is (that)
their kids were relentless," Cox
said. "They were relentless for 70
minutes. When Michigan decides
to be relentless for 70 minutes, we'll
finish (games like) the 2-1 loss to
Maryland. That's the difference."
Michigan will need to carry the
indefatigable mindset from this
win into the upcoming Big Ten
Tournament next weekend in Ann
Arbor. The Wolverines could face
a potential rematch with North-
western in the first round, and will
need to win three straight matches
on three consecutive days in order
to recapture their tournament
'M' ends regular season with 'W'
By JAMIE JOSEPHSON
Daily Sports Writer
Martha Stewart couldn't have cooked up a
better recipe for the Michigan men's soccer
Start with a nine-game winless streak, stir
in a four-game scoreless skid, mix in the final
regular-season game, sprinkle a dash of Parent's
Night and top it off with the seniors' final con-
test at the U-M Soccer Field.
Bake for 90 minutes.
At the sound of the final buzzer in Saturday's
match against Penn State, Michigan finally
experienced the sweet taste of victory once
Maybe it was the night-game atmosphere.
Maybe it was the maize uniforms the team
sports for "big games." Maybe it was just the
Whichever rings true for the Maize and Blue,
Michigan came out of its slump and defeated the
Nittany Lions, 1-0.
"When you're not scoring goals and not get-
ting results, you tend to lose that winning feel-
ing," Michigan coach Steve Burns said. "There
is nothing like getting a good win and hopefully
getting the momentum going in your direction
A little more than 10 minutes into the sec-
ond half, sophomore Michael Holody lined up
to take a free kick for Michigan. When Penn
State's goalkeeper Conrad Taylor came out of
the net to challenge the Wolverine attack, the
ball popped out to tri-captain Kevin Hall. The
senior took the shot and found the back of the
net for the game-winner at 56:06.
"(Brian Popeney) always says that I have the
most surprised look on my face when I score,"
Hall said. "I don't really remember that much,
but I know it was a good feeling."
Hall and the rest of the Michigan contingent
rushed over to the stands, jumped up and down
and embraced one another in a post-goal cele-
bration that has been a long time coming.
There couldn't have been a more appropriate
Prince Charming in Saturday's fairy tale.
"Kevin Hall is the emotional leader on our
team," Burns said. "He's the warrior on our
team. You saw him cover immense tracks of
ground today. He found himself in a good scor-
ing position and calmly hit a nice ball. The rest
Michigan (1-2-3 Big Ten, 6-9-4 overall) came
out hungry against Penn State (3-3-0, 6-10-2)
from the outset. About 17 minutes into the first
half, Popeney gathered a ball from freshman
Peri Marosevic. But Taylor challenged the play
and made two consecutive blocks to save a goal.
Hall also earned an early opportunity to
score off a serve from freshman Mauro Fuzetti
in the left corner. Hall's header sailed just wide,
but the Wolverines had the Nittany Lions back
on their toes from the very beginning.
Michigan set the aggressive tone early and
never looked back.
"This being the senior's last day, we tried to
make an emotional appeal in the locker room,"
Burns said. "(We talked about) all that the
seniors have done, the enthusiasm they show
day in and day out and all of the passion and
love that they have for this soccer program. I
think everyone responded and rallied around it.
... Tonight was our night."
Following Hall's goal, the Wolverines protect-
ed their lead with their lives. Defensive contain-
ment had been a consistent force in Michigan's
play all season long, and Saturday's contest was
no exception. Goalkeeper Patrick Sperry served
as a formidable last line of defense, notching six
saves on the night.
"It was an all-out effort from the whole
team," senior defender Kevin Savitske said. "It
started with the forwards tracking back, the
midfield working hard and ended with the solid
defense in the back. (The keys were) big, hard
tackles and just alot of effort."
The bottom line: the crisp, fall evening was
a night to remember for the Wolverines. It took
just four words to overshadow all of the season's
struggles and disappointments: "Hail to the
"The guys all having smiles on their faces
(on Saturday) is worth any team retreat and any
great practice," Burns said. "It's tough to fabri-
cate that, and it does a lot for the psyche. The
timing couldn't be better going into the Big Ten
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was a little more humble. She took
time to thank her teammates for
helping her finish off her career
with another championship.
"Five in a row - this one was
icing on the cake," Field said. "I've
enjoyed watching the younger girls
develop and improve into great
runners. This was a huge accom-
plishment for everyone involved."
McGuire noted that the final
score wasn't indicative of the entire
meet. Running in the Big Ten,
which boasts six teams in the top
25, is a brutal experience.
"This is the best the Big Ten has
been in the 15 years I have been
coaching here," McGuire said.
"We took the tough competition
as a challenge, and we definitely
exceeded that challenge."
Another factor contributing to
the difficult race was the course
itself, which contains more hills
and sloping terrains than other
courses the team has run.
"If you can show me a flat lie on
this course, I'll give you a dollar,"
McGuire joked. "I'll tell you, it's
cross country at its finest."
To get ready for the difficult
course, Kohlmeier said that the
team did extensive hill training in
the Arb, which she admitted helped
her prepare for the tough hills.
"Usually, I run better on a track-
type course, but I felt really good
on the hills today," Kohlmeier said.
"Running the hills in the Arb 14
times a day is a little tougher than
what we had to run today."
Along with the physical train-
ing and hill workouts, McGuire
attributed Michigan's victory to
the experience the team has at this
level of competition. Four of the top
five finishers had run in a Big Ten
championship race before. That
experience helped the team know
what to expect and kept the young-
er runners calm.
The record for most consecutive
Big Ten championships in women's
cross country for Michigan is six.
The Wolverines, who lose only two
runners who finished in the top
40 yesterday, aren't about to slow
down. They will be viable contend-
ers for the Big Ten title next year
Webster looked at the win as
a springboard into the National
Championship, set for Nov. 20 in
Terre Haute, In. Before nation-
als, the team will compete in
the NCAA Regionals, which
take place on Nov. 11 in Bowling