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November 08, 2006 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-08

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10A - Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Kickers get
tourney bid

By ROBERT KAITZ
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's soccer
team collectively exhaled on Mon-
day after learning its postseason
fate.
To borrow an expression from
college basketball, its bubble didn't
burst.
The Wolverines will travel to
South Bend to face Wisconsin-Mil-
waukee (7-0 Horizon League, 16-3-
1 overall) in the first round of the
NCAA Tournament on Friday at 5
p.m.
"It was a huge sigh of relief,"
senior co-captain Katelin Spencer
said. "We don't know everything
that goes on behind the scenes, so
'we didn't know what to expect."
Despite its adversity-filled sea-
son, Michigan possessed a resu-
me impressive enough to earn an
NCAA bid for the ninth time in 10
seasons.
"We've had so many injuries and
so many things come up, but we are
getting contributions from every-
one on the team and still winning,"
Michigan coach Debbie Radem-
acher said. "It's been a big motiva-
tor for us."
The team boasts victories over
three ranked teams and emerged
as a top-four team in the Big Ten
conference. And with a strong 4-2-
3 finish to the season, the selection
committee simply had to include
the Maize and Blue.
Although Michigan (4-3-3 Big
Ten, 9-7-5) returns to familiar ter-
ritory in the NCAA tournament, its
opponent is anything but familiar.
The Wolverines have played the
Panthers just once in their history,
a 3-2 victory in 2000.
"It can be dangerous to play an
unknown team," redshirt junior
co-captain Lindsey Cottrell said.
"We have to be ready to play our
absolute best from the beginning."
If records against common
opponents (Indiana, Kentucky and
Wisconsin) are any indication of
how Friday's game will go, then
Michigan is in for a tough fight.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee compiled a
1-1-1 record, while the Wolverines
went 1-2-1 against the three.

"They are a team similar to what
we face in the Big Ten - they are
fighters and competitors," Spencer
said.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a strong
mid-major, has been dominant
over the last two months. A loss
in the semifinals of the Horizon
League Tournament snapped a 13-
game unbeaten streak (12-0-1). In
conference play, the Panthers out-
scored their opposition by a 21-4
margin.
Michigan must be ready for
Wisconsin-Milwaukee's balanced
offense (nine Panthers with multi-
ple goals) and stifling defense (0.44
goals against average and 15 total
shutouts).
"We are going to prepare for
them through scouting and video-
tapes," Rademacher said.
If the Wolverines make it past
the first round, the next opponent
will be much more familiar. They
will face a nonconference rival,
either Oakland or Notre Dame.
Since the Fighting Irish are top-
ranked and undefeated (20-0-1),
penciling them in for the second
round game on Sunday shouldn't
be considered too hasty. During a
three-game losing streak earlier
this season, Michigan lost to both
teams in consecutive matches.
But the Wolverines can look to
history to find a little inspiration
on extending its season past this
weekend. In 2003, the team was
also sent to South Bend to play the
first and second rounds. With an
eerily similar record (9-7-6), Mich-
igan survived through the week-
end. Its opponents were (surprise,
surprise) Oakland and No. 4 Notre
Dame. The fourth-year players all
experienced the thrill of that sea-
son's appearance in the Sweet 16s.
"We definitely won't overlook
Friday night," Cottrell said. "But
there is a core group of girls who
played a big part (in 2003's suc-
cess)."
Now that the pressure of earn-
ing a postseason berth is off, Mich-
igan can enjoy an opportunity to
run the table.
"I can't wait to see how far we
can take it," an enthused Spencer
said. "The Sweet 16s, why not?"

MIKE H U LSEBUS/Daily
Defensive coordinator Ron English can expect more media attention as the season progresses. He's been mentioned as a candidate for the Michigan State head coaching job.
Spartans may wnEnglish

By SCOTT BELL
Daily Sports Editor
English might become a foreign
language for the Michigan football
team.
Ever since Michigan State fired
coach John L.
Smith last week, NOTEBOOK
a few names
keep popping up as candidates to
fill the head coaching vacancy in
East Lansing.
Along with coaches like Steve
Mariucci and Butch Davis lies a
name that's very familiar to Michi-
gan fans: current defensive coordi-
nator Ron English.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
didn't seem bothered by the situa-
tion when asked about it at his Mon-
day press conference.
"That's one of the advantages of
coaching here," Carr said. "There's
nothing I would rather see than
have guys on our staff to move on
in head coaching positions, and I
think that will happen. There's a lot
of guys on this staff capable of being
head coaches."
Even though Carr's response was
vague, the clear star of the assistant

coaching ranks at Michigan has
been English.
English left the team last offsea-
son to become the Chicago Bears'
secondary coach, but returned to
Michigan less than a week later. He
was named defensive coordinator
after Jim Herrmann left the Wol-
verines for the NFL.
This year, English has reener-
gized a Michigan defense that fal-
tered down the stretch last season.
Michigan's rushing defense ranks
first in the nation.
English's early success has been
good for the 2006 team, but may
almost be too good. The staunch
Michigan defense could take Eng-
lish away from the Wolverines ear-
lier than most fans thought.
Carr knows it wouldn't be the
first time a Michigan assistant has
left to join the rival Spartans.
"That'd be fun, wouldn't it?"
Carr said. "Biggie Munn, I think
he's the winningest coach in the
history of Michigan State. He
coached here for Fritz Crisler. I
can remember Bill McCartney
when he was an assistant here
expressed an interest in that
(Michigan State) job, and that

made people very angry. But the
truth is, it's a great job. There's a
lot of people who would love to be
the head coach there."
Michigan's players know English
would make a great head coach, too,
but aren't quite ready to say good-
bye just yet.
"I definitely think he has what it
takes to make any jump, to be hon-
est," senior cornerback Leon Hall
said. "I just think he's that great
of a guy and that great of a coach.
I'm hoping he doesn't leave just for
the sake of the defense, because if
you lose a guy like that, you lose
a big chunk of the defense. But I
definitely think he has potential to
make any jump that's possible."
English told the Detroit Free
Press following Saturday's game
that Michigan State has not con-
tacted him about the job.
Streak still alive: When junior
running back Mike Hart fumbled
the ball through his own end zone
on Saturday, it didn't just end Mich-
igan's bid for a shutout, but also an
impressive streak of touches with-
out a fumble lost.
Or so he thought.
Hart's fumble was ruled not to

be a fumble lost on Monday. Since
the ball went out of bounds in the
end zone and was not recovered by
a Ball State player, it is not consid-
ered a fumble lost. The possession
officially changed hands when
punter Zoltan Mesko kicked the
ball away on the free kick follow-
ing the safety.
Hart's streak of consecutive
touches without a fumble lost now
stands at 688.
Injury update: Carr said that
sophomore receiver Mario Man-
ningham will make his first start
since the Michigan State game Sat-
urday at Indiana.
He played 13 snaps on Saturday
in an attempt to ease back into the
lineup after he missed three games
with a knee injury.
Tight end Mike Massey is also
expected to return to the lineup. He
missed the previous three games
because of a shoulder injury.
The status of linebacker Prescott
Burgess (ankle), tight end Tyler
Ecker (ankle) and running back
Kevin Grady (shoulder) will be
determined this week, depending
on how they react to treatment dur-
ing practice.

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