The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 5A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 5A
Mathews looks to step
up as career winds down
The story behind the MICHIGAN SOCCER
new Michigan soccer HOME FIELD HISTORY
stadium - and the
benefits it will bring MEN'S SOCCER
By RUTH LINCOLN
Daily Sports Editor
After the Capital One Bowl in
January 2008, Wolverine fans had
Greg Mathews pegged as the next
top Michigan wideout.
His seven catches for 62 yards
made it hard not to get excited
about the wide receiver hanging in
the shadows of Wolverine standouts
ham and Adrian NOTEBOOK
when those two left early for the
NFL, Mathews was left standing in
But under new Michigan coach
Rich Rodriguez, Mathews found
himself as a lone veteran in an
offense run by inexperienced quar-
terbacks. Struggling to find his role
and hampered by injuryearlyinthe
season, he finished 2008 with 38
catches, second on the team behind
then-freshman slot receiver Mar-
A year later, it didn't look like
much had changed.
This season has been somewhat
of a bust for Mathews. He had the
game-winning catch against Notre
Dame, but overall, his performance
was far removed from the one he
showed in the Capital One Bowl.
Entering Michigan's matchup
against Delaware State on Oct. 17,
Mathews had tallied seven catches
the whole season - the same num-
ber the Orlando native had in his
hometown back on New Year's Day
Just 86 total yards at the sea-
son's midway point, a huge fumble
against Iowa on a kickoff return
and a dropped touchdown pass
against Michigan State left many
wondering what happened to Greg
"It's definitely my responsibility
to catch the ball any time the quar-
terback gets it near, so I take the
responsibility," Mathews said fol-
lowing Michigan's 26-20 overtime
pss q~t jggi, State.
But it looks like Mathews has
finally found his groove, even
though last Saturday's outcome
against-Penn State wasn't wlhat the
Wolverines would have liked. He
was freshman quarterback Tate
Senior Greg Mathews tied a career high against Penn State with seven catches, matching his 2008 Capital One Bowl total.
Forcier's favorite target, and tied a
career high with seven catches.
Rodriguez hinted that Mathews'
change in stride was very much
mental and that now is an ideal
time for him to improve.
"Sometimes in your senior year,
you see the end kind of coming to
the end of your college career,"
Rodriguez said. "Sometimes you
say, 'Now's the time for me to try to
do even more.'"
For Mathews to do more isn't an
issue of talent - he's proved he has
it on a number of occasions. Rather,
it's more Mathews venturing into
areas he has avoided during his
career. Rodriguez said the coaches
remarked during Tuesday's prac-
tice how the typically soft-spoken
wideout was excelling and stepping
out of his shell.
"He even took some more vocal
leadership rglpand was, havipg
some fun," Rodriguez said. "Greg's
an experienced guy that if he can
play well and make some big plays
for us, he can lift us offensively. I'm
really looking for big things from
him the rest of the season."
CISSOKO UPDATE: Boubacar
Cissoko's dismissal hasn't become
any less mysterious. Rodriguez
would not elaborate further on Cis-
soko's dismissal yesterday, restat-
ing the cornerback's boot came as a
"violation of team rules."
"As I told the team, all I do is
enforce the decisions that they
make," Rodriguez said. "As a coach,
that's our responsibility. ... As I
explained to the team, it's a privi-
lege - not a right - to be in the
program. Both on and off the field,
there are certain rules they have
to follow, and players understand
that. It's never pleasant to have to
Thomas Wilcher, Cissoko's
coach at Detroit Cass Technical
High School, said the dismissal was
a "combination of missing study
tables, missing class and missing
workouts." Prior to Rodriguez's
announcement Tuesday, Cissoko
had been suspended for two games
earlier this season.
Wilcher said he believes Cissoko
will transfer. Rodriguez would
not comment on the specifics of a
new destination for Cissoko, giv-
ing his standard response, "I only
talk about the players that play for
Michigan." But he did have some
words of advice for the sophomore.
"We certainly hope that not for
just Boubacar, but anybody else
that's been dismissed from the pro-
gram, that you try to help them in
the future if they learned their les-
son and do the right things," Rodri-
guez said. "That will be the case
if he gets right academically, does
what he is supposed to do. Hope-
fully, he can continue his career
INJURY UPDATE: Odoms did
not practice Monday or Tuesday
due to a swollen knee he suffered
against Penn State. Rodriguez said
he responded well to treatment and
was expected to practice yesterday.
... Senior tailback Brajdonp, Mingt
was limited this week because
of a chronic high-ankle sprain....
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver
Junior Hemingway pr'acticed full'
contact Tuesday after tweaking his
knee last Saturday.
By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sports Writer
When Steve Burns first saw the
future of the Michigan men's soc-
cer team, he was with eight or nine
of his past players. The coach was
at a former player's wedding when
the preliminary drawings of the
proposed Michigan soccer stadi-
um were released.
their shoulders like, 'Yeah, you
told us that we were going to have
a stadium, too. So I'll believe it
when I see it,'" Burns said.
Burns and his players had a
right to be skeptical. Ever since the
men's soccer program officially
became a varsity sport in 2000, it
hasn't had a home field.
But the new Michigan soccer
stadium could make up for lost
time. With a capacity of 2,200, it
may not be the largest college soc-
cer stadium, but it will meet Mich-
igan's high standards for building
a new sports venue.
It took a lot of work for the
coach to get the stadium to become
a reality, but without Burns, there
wouldn't be a men's soccer pro-
gram in the first place.
As a Michigan student, he
played on the men's club soccer
team from 1984 to 1988, and then
came back to coach it in 1992.
When Burns was earning his
Masters in Kinesiology in 1998,
he researched how he could con-
vince the Athletic Department to
approve men's soccer as a varsity
sport. His work culminated in a
32-page report to persuade Ath-
letic Director Bill Martin to grant
the sport varsity status.
.,Buos -Atrtpd the, push for soc-
cer facilities at Michigan, but,
women's coach Greg Ryan helped
to seal the deal. He was hired in
2008 to turn around a porotts pio-'
gram that had gone 20-25-16 the
previous three years, including a
three-win campaign in 2007.
Ryan took over the program in
the spring of 2008 and led Michi-
gan to a 4-10-5 record in a rebuild-
ing year. Like the men's team,
Ryan's squad hasn't had qual-
ity facilities since its inception in
With both teams becoming
more prominent at the university,
the coaches were able to havea say
in the construction of a stadium
that will make its mark on Michi-
THE BEST STADIUM IN THE
Executive Associate Athletic
Director Dr. Michael Stevenson
didn't hesitate when he was asked
why it took so long to get a stadium
2000 - 2002
Michigan Soccer Field
(next to field hockey)
2003 - 2007
U-M Soccer Complex
2008 - present
- First game - Mitchell Field
Michigan Soccer Field
(next to field hockey)
1995 - 2007
U-M Soccer Complex
2008 - present
Note: Both teams had 2008 home
games at Eastern Michigan Univer-
sity and Saline High School while the
U-M Soccer Complex was under
for the soccer programs.
"Money," he said bluntly. It was
one of the same reasons the men's
program waited so long to become
a varsity sport.
The new stadium is partpf a
project that will cost six million
dollars, and is directly funded
by the Intercollegiate Athletics
resources and gifts fund. With
O'Neill Construction of Ann Arbor
winning the bid, construction
started this week on the current
site of the soccer complex.
"I think that we're bringing
the Soccer Complex, including
the fields and the stadium, up to
the level that you would expect a
Michigan team to have," Steven-
son said. "We have been way, way
behind the eight-ball with soc-
cer facilities from the day that we
added the men's team. ... I think
we're finally getting it to where it
needs to be."
The teams currently play at the
three-field U-M Soccer Complex,
and the new stadium will be built
at the center of the facility.
Next year, both soccer teams
will continue to practice on the
fields on either side of the middle
See STADIUM, Page 8A
Communication a key for D'
By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Writer
Junior goalie Bryan Hogan's
biggest strength became his big-
Michigan had just tied the game
2-2 last Saturday against Bos-
ton University. Hogan went out
to play the puck to his defense, a
strong point in his game. While in
the corner, the Terrier forecheck
disrupted the pass and Boston put
the puck into the wide open net.
"I looked at his puck touches,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "He probably made 15 good
plays and then one not-so-good
play and it cost us a goal. He didn't
get any support from his defense-
men, either. They were all - not
asleep at the switch but not
sensing danger either.
"They were just taking it for
granted that Hogan would get
them the puck."
The rare puck-handling mis-
take from Hogan, who Berenson
says "might be the best puck-
handling goalie we've had since
(Marty) Turco," revealed a deeper
issue amongthe team - the lack of
communication between Hogan
and the defense.
With a startlingsilence between
the two parties and Hogan being
very active outside of the crease,
the coaches have seen the defen-
semen automatically anticipate
that Hogan will get the puck to
But when the defensemen are
wrong on their assumptions, they
tend to put themselves out of posi-
On the game-winning goal Sat-
urday, sophomore Brandon Burlon
was in the far corner expecting
the pass from Hogan and senior
Chris Summers was on the half
boards also looking for a quick
pass. Neither could touch Terrier
forward Joe Pereira before he put
it in the empty net.
"Anytime the puck comes in,
and the goalie's going to have to
handle it, let's expect danger,"
Berenson said. "We can expect
him to make the play, but if he
doesn't or gets a bad bounce, then
we can step in and help."
More communication will lead
to better defensive-zone cover-
age. With the defense telling
Hogan what it wants to do with
the puck, usually to either "leave
it" behind the net or to "play it"
up to a Wolverine, it can send one
man to receive the puck while the
other gets into a more defensively
This chatter can also lead to a
better transition from the defense
to offense. When Hogan receives
the puck on a dump-in behind the
net, the defensemen can tell him
where to go to with it, and he can
then connect on a long outlet pass
to create an odd-man rush the
"We've been working on that
in practice, just defense-goalie
dump-ins and literally calling
what we want done," Burlon said.
"(Using) the exact words we want
to use with Hogie just so he knows
what's going on, so we avoid any
of that confusion later on in the
The defensemen will need that
communication as Hogan takes
the net this weekend in Sault Ste.
Marie againstLake Superior State.
With the nation's No. 15 scoring
offense, the Lakers will pounce on
any Wolverine lapse.
But the strengthened relation-
ship in the defensive zone has
Michigan optimistic that it has
learned from its faults.
"I think this weekend will be
a big test for me and the defen-
semen to move the puck a lot,"
"I think it's going to be a lot
better for sure since we're on the
same page now. Before, we were
just kind of wingingit."
Kopmeyer named Big Ten Rookie of the Week
By STEPHEN NESBITT
After shutting down the Wis-
consin offense on Sunday, redshirt.
freshman goalie Haley Kopmeyer
etched her name into the Michigan
record books and earned another
Big Ten Rookie of the Week title -
her second in three weeks.
With the 0-0 standstill in Ann
Arbor, Kopmeyer received her
fifth shutout in 12 starts this sea-
son, which tied Megan Tuura's
2003 record for shutouts by a first-
year goaltender. Kopmeyer still
has three regular-season games
left to break it. The rookie goalie
was quick to credit her teammates,
who have allowed just five goals in
nine games since Sept. 16.
"(The record) is a real honor,"
said Kopmeyer, who has kept the
starting position since the fourth
game of the year. "It kind of shows
how well we've been doing as a
defense ... and for me personally to
get my ankle better and come back,
it's just kind of nice to see it's pay-
The scoreless game saw the
Michigan keeper, who struggled
with injuries during her redshirt
year, improve her record to 3-4-5
in net, while lowering her goals-
against average to 0.97 goals per
game, the fifth-best mark in Michi-
The win also helped Kopmeyer
improve her unbeaten home record
Second-year head coach Greg
Ryan commended his goalie on
her accomplishments, but also
gave credit to the Michigan team
as a whole (0-2-5 Big Ten, 5-7-5
overall) for limiting the number
of opponent scoring opportuni-
ties all season. Kopmeyer has
maintained the third-best save
percentage in team history to this
point, with a .845 save percentage
on 71 shots.
"Haley is the back line of
defense," Ryan said. "She is play-
ing really well, but all the players
in front of her are doing a great job
of limiting the scoring chances. I
think that is a credit to the whole
Kopmeyer was selected as the
Big Ten Rookie of the Week after
she held Minnesota and Wiscon-
sin scoreless for 220 consecutive
minutes, following an early goal
to the Golden Gophers on Friday.
"It's great to see that the hard
work is paying off," Kopmeyer said.
"It's a nice compliment to receive,
and it's a compliment not only to me
but also our defense."
Teammates have been impressed
with her performance and are
grateful that she gives the team
an opportunity to win each game,
even with a struggling offense that
is averaging under 1.06 goals per
"She has really been great for us,"
junior team captain Jackie Carron
said of Kopmeyer's importance to
the team. "Having Haley so confi-
dent really makes (the team) confi-
dent in ourselves, and it has helped
us play better together."
Ryan said it is important to have
players like Kopmeyer around for
the next few years to guide the
young team, which will lose just
three seniors at the end of the sea-
"Every player on this team that
contributed to our success this year
has been a partof building the foun-
dation of the future, and Haley has
been a big partof that," Ryan said.
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