By Jake Lourim, For The Daily
Published August 25, 2013
As a three-time All-American, Michigan senior Rachael Mack has a knack for giving Michigan the lead and never giving it up. But on Saturday, the Michigan State field hockey team fought back.
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The Spartans scored twice in the second half of an exhibition game to rally and beat Michigan, 2-1, at MSU’s Ralph Young Field.
Mack, a three-time All-American who has led the team in scoring and points for three consecutive seasons, scored off a corner hit just four minutes into the game. That stood as the only tally at halftime.
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said the offense will again run through Mack this season.
“Always,” Pankratz said. “As we know, people are going to key on her, and we expect that. We’re expecting some other players in the front line to carry the load with her. If we’re balanced in the attack, then they’re not going to be able to key on her.”
Michigan State tied the game 90 seconds into the second half off of another corner hit. The Spartans’ leading returning scorer, Abby Barker, recorded the goal.
The teams traded corner hit deflections until Michigan State finished the game-winner with 3:14 left. This time it was senior captain Kristen Henn with a corner-hit goal.
After giving up two corner-hit goals, Pankratz emphasized making some changes on defense.
“In the second half, we have to work on fixing a couple of strategic things and fixing personnel, where we want them to play,” Pankratz said. “Breaking out of the backfield, we made some miscues. We went one-on-one a little too much, so we’ve got to practice some things there out of the midfield.”
Michigan had a corner kick just before the one-minute mark, but Spartan goalie Molly Cassidy stopped a shot by Wolverine back Leslie Smith.
“I think scoring is one of our strengths,” Mack said. “Today, it wasn’t what we wanted, but we just have to go back and work harder.”
The Wolverines were dissatisfied with the final result, but Pankratz said her team practiced twice for a combined seven hours on Friday in preperation for the regular season.
“We’ve been practicing really hard, but in a game, it’s a different situation,” Mack said. “The result wasn’t what we wanted, but that’s just the way hockey goes sometimes.”
Michigan goalie Haley Jones, a fifth-year senior from Ann Arbor, made one save when she preserved the tie midway through the second half. Barker passed it to Michigan State junior Allie Ahern for a short redirect, but Jones charged and made a diving stop.
Led by senior goalie Molly Cassidy, Michigan State fended off three Michigan shots on goal.
The Spartans recovered in the second half and held Michigan to one shot in a largely defensive effort on both sides.
Smith and sophomore back Lauren Thomas are two of Michigan’s four returning All-Big Ten players on defense. True freshman back Eliza Stein joined them in the starting lineup Saturday.
“She is a very, very smart player,” Pankratz said. “She is extremely coachable. She understands the system immediately. She hustles all the time.”
Pankratz said she wasn’t quite sure on next weekend’s starting lineup after the exhibition game.
“We still haven’t really solidified positions and some of the final tactics that we’re going to do,” Pankratz said. “It really gave us some important information to help us make decisions coming up in the next week.”
Michigan opens the regular season next weekend with a trip to Orono, Maine, to play Massachusetts and Maine.