Fifth-year senior Casie Ammerman remembers it all.
In 2011, the Michigan field hockey team was on a roll. Coming off a Big Ten championship the previous season, the Wolverines were on a five-game winning streak when they beat Indiana 4-2 to clinch the title yet again.
An Ann Arbor native herself, Ammerman grew up a Michigan fan. More specifically, she was a Michigan field hockey fan. Nowadays, Ammerman is a crucial part of the team herself.
Having already won a share of the regular season Big Ten crown with a 3-2 win over Iowa earlier in the week, the Wolverines looked to win the outright title with a win over Northwestern on Friday evening.
“During high school, I’d always come with my team and we’d come support the Wolverines,” Ammerman said. “It has been awesome for me to give back to my community and inspire girls that were just like me.”
Against the Wildcats, Ammerman was able to do just that. Young girls were scattered throughout the bleachers. A few more were spotted wearing face paint and waving large flags. Another group of fans arrived after their school day, rushing to Michigan’s bleachers from nearby Tappan Middle School.
And like Ammerman, they were there to witness the Wolverines clinch the outright Big Ten championship — the first since Ammerman watched from the stands at Ocker Field six years prior.
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz, who led the Wolverines to their 2011 title, believes it’s this team’s leadership that has made all the difference.
“Everyone really took care of their own business and did their job from top to bottom, left to right,” Pankratz said. “I think our seniors really carried the load and had high expectations, and delivered.”
And on Senior Day against the Wildcats, fittingly, it was the senior class that stepped up to plate once again.
Ammerman anchored the defense at the center, working to reject flurries of Northwestern penalty corners early in both halves. Her communication and direction were key to Michigan’s composure.
Senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson boasted four saves on the day, marking her seventh shutout of the Wolverines’ 11-game winning streak. Swenson has been a major contributor to program ever since her freshman year, and was the first All-American goalkeeper in program history back in 2015.
It was senior midfielder Katie Trombetta, though, that knocked in the go-ahead goal on a penalty corner to take the lead and eventual victory over the Wildcats.
Junior Maggie Bettez sent the ball square in front of the cage, where it was set by sophomore Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort. Trombetta took the ball in stride, sending a dagger over the scrum, where it eventually deflected into the back of net.
Now, with a perfect 8-0 conference record, Michigan has earned the top seed in next weekend’s Big Ten Tournament, along with home field advantage. And though the Wolverines have earned the outright title, Trombetta knows that there's no time to settle.
“It’s going to make us want to work harder and win another championship,” Trombetta said. “It’s just going to keep pushing us as hard as we can.”