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T ih nWednesday, November 1, 2006 - 9A
right at home
in Big Ten
Senior co-captains Judy Coffman and Katelin Spencer look to lead their team to a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament and an NCAA Tournament berth-
Conference competition pu
NCAA berth t ine
By CHRIS HERRING
Daily Sports Writer
As if the Big Ten Tourna-
ment title wasn't enough to
defend, now the Michigan
field hockey team has an added
pressure , defending its home
Starting this Friday, the
Wolverines will attempt to win
their third straight postsea-
son conference championship
when they host the Big Ten
Although it seems like play-
ing at home would provide a
boost, senior tri-captain Mary
Fox pointed out that hosting it
could make things more dif-
"It adds a lotof pressure and,
to some extent, makes it hard-
er," Fox said. "Outside expec-
tations will be higher because
we have a home advantage,
but really, I feel like there isn't
much of an advantage at all."
Michigan coach Nancy Cox
'EN TAI/Daily said the team should view
playing at home as an advan-
"I think our kids play with
confidence, particularly when
we are at home," Cox said.
"There are definitely some
things about our field that our
kids know and take advantage
of I think it is a huge benefit for
us to be at home."
The team fares best at home.
The Wolverines are 7-1 at Ocker
Field this season, with the lone
onal and defeat coming at the hands of
Oct. 1 in No. 5 Ohio State in overtime
two weeks ago. Michigan has
nski pro- compiled just a 4-7record away
rebound from home this year.
5 minutes More than home field advan-
tie. Spen- tage, Cox is counting on the
the Wol- team's experience to help give
irner kick the Wolverines an edge during
d a better "For our team, the experi-
the Hoo- ence is incredibly helpful," Cox
game and said. "The sophomores, juniors
o provide and seniors already know how
d match- important this tournament
tunity to is. The freshmen will find out
very quickly, too."
e an invi- While there may be some
urnament added expectations from play-
eer of an ing at home over the weekend,
of seniors the biggest pressure will be
an Tuura defending the Big Ten Tourna-
ment crown for a third straight
ngs on the season.
rmance. But according to senior tri-
Matchup: Iowa (2-4-
0, 9-8-0); Michigan
When: Friday, 12:30
Where: Ann Arbor
captain Eleanor Martin, the
team won't focus on the past
going into the tournament.
"(Past tournaments) are
something that will be in the
back of our heads, but this is a
completely different team with
completely different dynam-
ics," Martin said.
Cox agreed with her captain,
adding that last season has no
bearing on this one.
"Really, I think that last
year's Big Ten Championship
is last year's Big Ten Cham-
pionship," Cox said. "But this
year has nothing to do with last
This team may be different
from last season's, but it comes
on fire. The Wolverines (4-2
Big Ten, 11-8 overall) have won
six of their last seven matches,
finishing in a three-way tie for
second place in the conference.
The team fellitothe fourth seed
after a set of tiebreakers was
needed to separate Michigan,
Indiana and Penn State.
The team will face fifth-
seeded Iowa to start tourna-
ment play. Michigan escaped
Iowa City with a 3-2 overtime
victory back in September.
Michigan may be ableto save
itself some stress by winning
the tournament. The champion
of the Big Ten receives an auto-
matic bid to the NCAA Tour-
nament, which includes just 16
teams. Though the Wolverines
could gain an at-large bid with-
out winning the tournament,
a conference championship
would take aload off the team's
Cox would love to know her
team will be at NCAAs rather
"The beauty of a three-day
tournament is that whoever is
on fire is the team who's going
to walk away with a trophy,"
Cox said. "I hope we can be
By ROBERT KAITZ
Daily Sports Writer
The Big Ten women's soccer tour-
nament begins tomorrow at Penn
State. And for Michigan, both the
expectations and stakes are high.
An NCAA Tournament berth
hangs in the balance.
The Wolverines will face fourth-
seeded Indiana in first-round action,
needing to advance in the bracket to
secure a spot in the postseason.
"We have to win the conference
tournament, or, at the very least, go
all the way to the conference finals in
order to be considered for the NCAA
Tournament," Michigan coach Deb-
bie Rademacher said.
Prior to a loss on Friday against
Michigan State, Michigan (4-3-3
Big Ten, 8-6-5 overall) was play-
ing its best soccer of the season.
The frustrating loss to an in-state
rival ended an impressive six-game
Big Ten Tournament
Matchup: Indiana (5-4-1,
9-6-4); Michigan (4-3-3,
When: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.
Where: State College
unbeaten streak. Although it didn't
affect Michigan's tournament seed,
the loss to a weaker opponent could
prove costly to its resume for an at-
large selection to the NCAA Tour-
But finishing fifth place ina highly
competitive conference and possess-
ing three victories over ranked oppo-
nents are strong qualifications to
make the 64-team postseason tour-
nament. Recent success in the Big
Ten Tournament also gives Michi-
gan a reason tobe optimistic heading
toward State College.
"We've been to the finals twice
(within the past three years), so we
can definitely win it," senior co-cap-
tain Katelin Spencer said.
Hosting the Big Ten Tournament
last year, Michigan surprised the
competition by advancing to the
finals as an eight seed. But it lost to
Wisconsin and missed its first NCAA
Tournament in eight seasons.
Earlier this season, it looked as if
the Wolverines might have trouble
evenmakingthe Big TenTournament
(just the top eight teams qualify),
after they started 1-2-2 in conference
play. But the team turned it on late in
the season, finishing the regular sea-
son with a 3-1-3 spurt that moved it
up the Big Ten standings.
Michigan's lone meeting with
Indiana (5-4-1,9-6-4) occurredwhile
the Wolverines were in the middle
of a discouraging 1-4-2 stretch. The
Hoosiers won an emoti(
hard-fought 2-1 decision
Indiana's Christie Koty
vided the difference on a
goal with just more than 1
remaining that broke a 1-1
cer scored the only goal for
verines, heading home a co
earlier in the second half.
Michigan felt it deserve'
fate in the game, because
siers played a conservative;
relied solely on set pieces t
the offense. The first-rout
up provides a great oppor
exact some revenge.
A loss might discourage
tation to the NCAA To
and end the collegiate car
extremely productive trio(
- Spencer, goalkeeper Meg
and striker Judy Coffman.
The fate of its season har
upcoming weekend's perfor
buzz to Netters
By ASHLEY BILKIE
For the Daily
There is a new Champion of
the West at Michigan this year
- Tanvi Dudhela, a freshman from
San Jose, Calif., and a member of
the women's tennis team. In 2005,
the San Jose Mercury News named
Dudhela the Women's Tennis Play-
er of the Year, and she achieved a
No. 2 ranking in under-18 national
"Tanvi brings a lot of energy and
enthusiasm to our team this year,"
fifth year senior Nina Yaftali said.
This fall at Michigan, Dudhela
has recorded a 5-3 record in sin-
gles match play and a 1-1 record in
So why did a tennis player with
a No. 2 national ranking, and an
opportunity to play anywhere in
the country choose Michigan?
"I was looking for a well-round-
ed school," Dudhela said. "My
official recruiting visits included
Penn, Columbia, Rice, Princeton
and the University of Michigan.
Obviously U of M has very good
academics, but what sold me was
the spirit - all of the athletic teams
are good, not just tennis."
Individually, Dudhela hopes
to improve her style of play and
compete well in the college-level
matches. A hard worker, she looks
forward to the team aspect that
the dual-season will bring. Dud-
hela said she looks up to all of the
members of the team and always
tries to learn something different
from the various elements each
Dudhela and the rest of the Wol-
verines kick off dual-match play
Jan.27 with a home opener against
Vanderbilt. Until then, the team
will stay in shape with individual
scoring tournaments, including
the Thunderbird Invitational this
weekend in Arizona.
"We'll be playing a lot of nation-
al teams this season, in addition to
those in the Big Ten. This tourna-
ment (in Arizona) will be a good
measuring stick for our team,"
Michigan coach Amanda Augus-
"Our biggest rival will be North-
western, but we havea strong team
and we really feel that we can beat
them this year," Dudhela said.
The Wolverines have been
working hard under the leadership
of first-year coach Augustus, and
expect it to pay off.
Last season, the Wolverines
compiled an 8-2 Big Ten, 18-7 over-
all record, but feel as though they
have a good shot at being the Big
Ten Champion this season - a
title Michigan hasn't held since
1997. But the conference includes a
number of tough teams, including
No. 4 Northwestern, last season's
Big Ten Champion.
"We have really good team
dynamics," Dudhela said. "It
would be really hard to find a situ-
ation where you have seven really
good friends, but we're put into a
situation where we spend almost
all of our time together."
Looking to the future, Dudhela
plans to apply to the Ross School of
Business - but until then, she will
The Thunderbird Invitational this
weekend will give the young Cali-
fornian another weekend of expe-
rience and offer a chance to add
wins to the impressive record she
has compiled so far.
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