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August 13, 1997 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-08-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

-- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, August 13, 1997
Change dominates field hockey
landscape -in and out of games

By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Editor
For the field hockey season, which
begins with a preseason game Friday,
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz is
determined to do things her way from
the outset.
Whereas last season she and her
caching staff arrived in Ann Arbor in
late August, this season they have been
in town making preparations for the
new campaign.
While the previous campaign was
dominated by former coach Patti
Smith's players and the remnants of the
old regime, this year Pankratz has
brought in seven top-flight recruits.
And with a new building adjacent to
their home field, the Wolverines will be
able to train in style.
The new era in Michigan field hock-
ey has dawned and Pankratz is in the
eye of the storm.
"The numbers (of athletes staying in

town) are up and we've been having
good competition in practice," she said.
That excitement can be directly
traced to one contest last spring where
the Wolverines went from thinking
they could improve to knowing they
would.
Michigan upset top-ranked North
Carolina in an exhibition match and
that got the ball rolling, Pankratz said.
"We beat the national champ -
UNC - in Durham,' she said. "They
were undefeated for two years.
"The girls were very excited."
It is that love for the sport that has
Michigan teetering on excitement for
its first game on Aug. 30, and Pankratz
positioning her team for an expansion
of their goals.
Three years ago, those goals were
nothing more than a pipe dream for this
up-and-coming sport.
The Michigan athletic campus used
to end at Schembechler Hall and the

football edifice stood as the great tem-
ple of Michigan sports.
But with the institution of a Nike
contract and a mandate to improve the
quality of the athletic facilities, field
hockey wanted to elbow its way to
respectability of its own on State
Street.
After seven consecutive seasons of
fourth- and fifth-place finishes, the
program was stagnant and fresh blood
was needed.
Enter Pankratz.
The 1996 campaign, which began
with five wins in the first nine outings,
took a turn for the worse as Michigan
stumbled to a sixth-place finish in the
Big Ten.
Pankratz, who was still coaching
Smith's recruits, had trouble putting
her stamp on the program.
That is no longer a problem, because
now field hockey knows its direction:
up.

MARK FRIEDMAN/Daily
After a distinguished playing career at Iowa, Michigan field hockey coach Marcia
Pankratz (right) now directs the Wolverines from the sidelines in her second year.

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Continued from Page 13
match against Iskra Russian Club on
Sept. 10, the Wolverines will be on the
road until Oct. 1.
"We have a lot of preseason matches
this year" Giovanazzi said. "And all are
very much at the same level of competi-
tion."
Although they'll have their hands full
when the season starts, the Wolverines
aren't worrying about who will lead

them in the '97 campaign.
Five starters are returning - setter
Linnea Mendoza, outside hitters Jeanine
Szczesniak and Karen Chase, and middle
blockers Sarah Jackson and Linsey
Ebert.
"I think that we really have a good
group" Giovanazzi said.
Only a couple new faces have joined
the Wolverines - freshmen Joanna
Fielder and Annie Maxwell.
"I think we have an extremely good
freshman in Joanna Fielder."

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Fielder, a middle blocker, is consid-
ered one of the top players at her position
entering school this season. Her addition
could shore up the middle along with
Darlene Recker and Ann Poglits.
"The part of the game that will be
most noticeably improved will be in our
blocking and our attacking' Giovanazzi
said.
Entering his sixth season, Giovanazzi
has yet to take Michigan to the NCAA
tournament. The pressure might be on
this experienced team to make that deci-
sive step.
"I don't even know if it's pressure so.
much as it is expectation, not only for
myself but the team expects it as well,"
Giovanazzi said. "I think being picked
seventh in the preseason Big Ten poll just
fuels whatever fire there may already be."
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