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April 04, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-04

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 7

'M' plays Battle at the
Big House vs. Fairfield

Men's lacrosse The success of th
looks to snap drove Michigan
tradition of its ov
three-game skid "Ohio State
successful with
By MINH DOAN Paul said. "They
Daily Sports Writer (national on-cam

ALLISON FARRAND/D,
Fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstemn will lead the Michigan women's gymnastics team into the NCAA Regionals Saturday.
/~ .
Women's gymnastics
heads to regionals

'M' must place in
top two of six to
advance to NCAA
Championships
By CINDY YU
Daily Sports Writer
The NCAA Regionals may be
the most underrated meet of the
season.
Considering NCAA
no trophy is
even awarded, Athens
NCAA Regional
Regionals
may seem Matchup: No.
especially 7 Michigan,
anticlimactic No. 6 Georgia,
No. 18 Central
for the No. Michigan, No.
7 Michigan 22 Ohio State,
women's North Carolina
gymnastics State, Rutgers
team, which When:
just came off Saturday
a huge wits to 4 P.M.
take home the Where:
Big Ten title. Athens, Ga.
Ho\ever, TV/Radio:
the opposite MGoBlue.com
could not be
more true.
"It's the most important meet
of the year," said senior Shelby
Gies.
Following the Big Ten
Championships, the meet serves
as a gateway to the NCAA
Championships, which means
that a poor performance could
spell an early end to the season.
To advance to its 20th NCAA
Championships, Michigan must
place in the top two Saturday
at the Stegeman Coliseum in
Athens, Ga. The team is slated to
face No. 6 Georgia, No. 18 Central
Michigan, No. 22 Ohio State,
North Carolina State and Rutgers.
Regardless of how well
Michigan has performed lately,
which is to say well, the team
can't overlook how crucial this
meet is. It's dangerous in that

the only scores that matter to
qualify for nationals are the
ones recorded at the respective
regional sites.
"It's new life," said Michigan
coach Bev Plocki. "If you go to
regionals and blow it, then there
is no nationals. Your season ends

in any other way than to be
that much more determined."
It's nearly impossible to
replace Sheppard, so the goal
is shifted toward collectively
as a team polishing the details,
picking up extra tenths from
hit handstands and stuck

While the fanfare of the
football spring
game might Fairfield at
dominate the
headlines Michigan
Saturday, the Matchup:
Michigan Fairfield 8-2;
men's lacrosse Michigan 4-7
team will When:
also play at Saturday
Michigan . 5 P.M.
Stadium in its Where:
annual Battle Michigan
at the Big Stadium
House. TV/Radio:
The MGoBlue.com
Wolverines
(1-1 Eastern
College Athletic League, 4-7
overall) will continue a tradition
that started with their first
year when they play conference
opponent No. 15 Fairfield (1-0,
8-2) after the spring game
concludes.
"When we first added varsity
lacrosse,the gamewas something
Dave Brandon and I talked
about, a chance to showcase a
new sport at Michigan," said
Michigan coach John Paul. "It
was an opportunity to have fans
who weren't really familiar with
lacrosse to get some exposure."
A lacrosse team following its
football team's spring game isn't
a new concept, though.
Ohio State has been playing
in its version of the annual game
- the "Showdown at the Shoe"
- for the past four years, since

season)
attendance
record a few
years ago."
The last
two years, the
game had an
added bonus
for fans as
Michigan
played its
rivals, the Bucke
the schedule for
be played agains
Next week,
travel down toO
in the Showdowt
For lacrosse,
trying to gain
Michigan, the tit
bringing awaren
Paul hopes it g
watching the
game a chance t
for.possibly the f
"(The game is
for Michigan f
know lacrosse or
into town for a b
to stick arounda
bit about our teat
But with the
of the upcom
Wolverines are
they do for any o
After falling
last week again
route to its thir
Michigan simpli
early on in the ga
"This week 1
making sure we

sat game is what simplified the strategy so the
to institute the guys don't have to make as many
wn. decisions early in the game and
's been very just play lacrosse."
their game," While Michigan is on a losing
actually set the streak, the Spags carry asix-game
tpus and regular winning streak, including wins
over No. 12
Massachusetts
a , and No. 14
"They're very ale.
consistent and solid "Fairfield
doesn't do a
at both ends." whole lot that's
*flashy," Paul
said. "They're
not going to
wow you like
yes. This season, some of the other top programs.
ced the game to They're very consistent and solid
t Fairfield. at both ends of the field. They
Michigan will don't make a lot of execution
hio State to play mistakes, and they shoot very,
n at the Shoe. very well."
a sport still But in the midst of the Stags'
popularity at consistency, Paul thinks the
ming is all about Wolverines have the advantage
ess to the game. with sophomore faceoff man Brad
;ives the crowd Lott.
spring football "I think we could have a little
o watch lacrosse bit of an advantage facing off,"
irst time ever. Paul said. "If we can get more
an opportunity posessions than them and match
ans who don't their offensive efficiency, we're
'who don't come goingtobeinaverygoodposition."
.ig football event With the spring game and the
and learn a little pomp that comes along with it,
m," Paul said. there could be a lot of distraction
added fanfare on Saturday with arguably the
ing game, the best team in the conference
preparing like comingto town.
ther game. But Michigan isn't worried
behind early about the football team. It has a
st Air Force en lacrosse game to play.
rd straight loss, "We're just preparing for the
fied its strategy next game, and the setting is
me. what it is," Paul said. "This is an
has been about important ECAC game, and we
're 100 percent have to make sure that we have

abruptly."
The
Wolverines are
on a nmission
to make a
statement
at regionals.
They have
their eyes set
on more than
just qualifying
for the next

landings.
Stepping
in for her on
"It's the most vault will be
senior Reema
important meet Zakharia,
who has been
of the year." in and out of
the lineup
throughout
the season.
Sophomore

competition. Rather, they want
to separate themselves from the
competition and prove that they
are serious contenders for the
coveted national title.
"We want to win that region
because that's going to be
the perception of what our
team's ability to win a national
championship is based on,"
Plocki said. "We want tochreate
buzz. We want people to be
talking about. our incredible
meet and we want to prove that
our Big Ten performance wasn't
a fluke."
A key component to this
picture is the role of the
alternates after sophomore
Austin Sheppard suffered a
season-ending broken ankle in
practice last week.
Sheppard, ranked No. 2 in the
nation on vault with an average
score of 9.945, will need her
teammates to fill her spot in the
lineup on vault, uneven bars and
balance beam.
"I think everyone feels
terrible for Austin," Plocki
said. "She had an opportunity
to do some big things in this
postseason, but I don't think
anybody on our team in any
way, shape or form is letting
her injury affect us

Lindsay Williams will be her
replacement in the other two
events.
"Bev puts emphasis on 7-8-9
in the lineup," Gies said. "They
are the most important people
on the team because they are
constantly pushing people in
the lineup. This is the perfect
opportunity to see how much
our team can dig to see how
much we have in us."
To better prepare for the
meet, the team also simulated
a mock meet with bye rotations
in practice this week to adjust to
the altered timing at regionals.
"It just gave them an
opportunity to at least think
about what it's going to feel
like to have to go and sit there
for 10 to 15 minutes and not let
your head get out of the context
of the meet," Plocki said. "It
was nice to finish with a strong
beam rotation, which we did
deliberately since we'll be
ending on beam at regionals."
Despite facing adversity a
number of times throughout
the season from scoring
discrepancies to injuries,
the Wolverines are ready to
continue what they have been
doing all season long: respond
with confidence and impress.

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