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July 05, 2018 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily

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11

Thursday, July 5, 2018
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com SPORTS

FILE PHOTO / DAILY
The Michigan field hockey team looks to continue its success from a year ago where it advanced to the Final Four
Season Preview: ‘M’ Field Hockey

When
then-junior
forward
Emma
Way
tipped
a
pass
between the legs of Northwestern
goalkeeper Annie Kalfa on Nov. 12
— completing a hat trick — it all but
sealed the Wolverines’ 18th win in
a row. Minutes later, it was official:
for the first time since 2003, the
Michigan field hockey team was
going to the Final Four.
And though the Wolverines
met their demise in the NCAA
semifinals
against
Maryland,
the Final Four run capped off
Michigan’s best season in years
— a season few saw coming at
the beginning of it. After years of
relative mediocrity, the Wolverines
put everyone on watch.
This year, after losing two key
pieces to a defense that last season
served up 16 shutouts and finished
second in the country in goals-
against average, Michigan will
have to retool its identity if it wants
to build on last season’s result.
But with a wealth of young talent
and the continued development of
returning players, the Wolverines
have the pieces to contend again.
Gone are midfielder and back
Katie Trombetta — the 2017 Big Ten
Player of the Year — and goalkeeper
Sam Swenson, named the 2017 Big
Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Instead, sophomore Halle O’Neill
and senior Maggie Bettez will
anchor the Wolverines’ defense.
As a true freshman, O’Neill

didn’t expect to start right away,
but it soon became clear that her
presence bolstered the back line.
Her performance was good enough
to earn her a spot on the U21
National Team. Bettez, meanwhile,
also
turned
heads
with
her
aggressiveness in the backfield—
and
while
their
contributions
were
relatively
unsung,
their
development could provide the
foundation
for
another
elite
defensive unit. With sophomore
goalkeeper Sidonie LaPlante — who
has just three career appearances
— facing the daunting task of
replacing Swenson, a strong back
line could go a long way.
The offense, meanwhile, returns
its most prolific goal-scorers in
senior Emma Way and junior
Meg Dowthwaite. The tandem
led Michigan in the postseason
— Dowthwaite’s overtime goal
in the NCAA Round of 16 against
Syracuse broke a scoreless tie, and
Way’s hat trick provided all the
offense the Wolverines needed
in their quarterfinal against the
Wildcats. Dowthwaite was an All-
Big Ten First Team selection last
season.
And while the midfielders are
Michigan’s
least-experienced
group, they have the potential to
develop into one of the conference’s
top
units.
Junior
Guadalupe
Fernandez Lacort — who co-led the
team in assists last season — and
sophomore Kayla Reed return as
starters, and with 10 midfielders
on
the
roster,
coach
Marcia

Pankratz will have a lot of depth to
experiment with.
Among those midfielders are
two notable incoming freshmen
in Kathryn Peterson and Sofi

Southam. Peterson, ranked the No.
8 recruit in the nation, is a versatile
passer who is strong offensively
and defensively. Southam — like
Fernandez Lacort a product of
Argentina — was selected for the
elite USA Field Hockey U21 Junior
National Camp.
The
Wolverines
once
again
face a tough schedule that will
give them the opportunity to test
themselves against the top teams
in the country. Among the slate is
a rematch with the Terrapins — a
perennial Big Ten powerhouse — as
well as games against Connecticut
and North Carolina, the other
Final Four teams. Michigan upset
the Tar Heels last year, but the
Huskies — the eventual national
champions — served up one of
the
Wolverines’
three
losses.
Michigan’s schedule also features
four other tournament teams in
Wake Forest, Northwestern, Penn
State and Stanford, all four of which
it defeated in 2017.
Though the Wolverines lost
several top players, last year’s Final
Four squad also featured several
standout
underclassmen
who
will now have the chance to step
up and lead the team. If they can
build on last season and take their
games to the next level, Michigan’s
graduation losses might soon be
forgotten.

ARIA GERSON
Daily Sports Writer

‘M’ hires new assistant
coach Yvonne Sanchez

On Monday, the Michigan
women’s basketball opted to
go with a veteran of the game
with the team’s hiring of its
latest assistant coach, Yvonne
Sanchez.
Sanchez has been coaching
for
23
years,
whether
in
an assistant or head coach
position.
Starting
her
coaching career in her native
state of New Mexico, she
served for six years as an
assistant coach at New Mexico
State before working at San
Diego State for a
brief stint before
transitioning to
the University of
New Mexico.
In
Alberquerque,
she
was
an
assistant
for
eleven
years
before
being
promoted
to
head
coach
in
2011, where she
led the Lobos to a Women’s
Basketball Invitational berth
twice before leaving in 2016.
After a year’s absence from
coaching, she returns to the
profession but this time as the
Wolverines’ assistant coach —
specializing in coaching the
guards. After the departure
of
first-team
All
Big
Ten
guard
Katelynn
Flaherty,
development in the position
would help mend the hole left
by Michigan’s all-time leading
scorer.
What
Sanchez
brings
is
something Michigan has had
trouble with over the past
couple seasons — experience
in creating stability for late-
season finishes.
“When filling this assistant
coaching position, I thought
it was really important to
bring in someone with a lot
of experience — whether that
was as a head coach or an
assistant coach,” said Kim
Barnes Arico to MGoBlue.
“Yvonne brings a ton of both
with her to Michigan. She is
well-respected amongst her
peers as well as recruits. I

think she has an outstanding
personality
and
connects
well with people all over the
country.”
The
Wolverines
saw
a
successful
season
with
a
return
to
the
NCAA
Tournament for the first time
since
the
2012-13
season.
However,
their
berth
was
threatened by a lackadaisical
finish, where they lost four of
their last six regular season
games. With Sanchez, they
look to fix that and improve
in the development of guards.
With a recruiting class that
has two point guards in the top
100 — including
five-star recruit
Amy
Dilk

development of
the
first-years
will be essential
for success.
“She
will
bring
another
dimension in all
aspects of our
program,
from
recruiting
to
working
with
our
point
guards,”
Barnes
Arico told MGoBlue. “I had
an opportunity to work with
her about 15 years ago on
the All-American committee
and have followed her career
ever since. They had a ton of
success at New Mexico during
her time there, reaching a
Sweet 16, growing such a large
fan base, and recruiting some
great players. We are excited
to have her join us in Ann
Arbor.”
With the hiring of Sanchez,
the
program
has
taken
a
step forward to stability and
consistency that should push
Michigan to the next step
after they saw their season
end in the second round of the
tournament.
“I am excited and honored
to be able to work at a
phenomenal place like the
University
of
Michigan,”
Sanchez said. “Kim and her
staff have done an incredible
job in Ann Arbor, their success
is on the rise, and I am looking
forward to working with such
an incredible team of staff and
players.”

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

TIEN LE
Summer Managing Sports Editor

“The program
has taken a
step forward to
stability”

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