Going into the season, the No. 7 Michigan field hockey team had a daunting schedule ahead — the Wolverines would be up against four ranked opponents in their first four games. But three wins and two weekends later, they proved that the competition didn’t faze them.
Michigan (3-1) launched its 2017 campaign in a similar fashion to the 2016 season, upsetting then-No. 1 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the second year in a row. The Wolverines clinched the victory with an offensive surge in the first minute of the second half to seize a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish.
The Wolverines then polished off their perfect opening weekend with a 5-4 win over No. 15 Wake Forest. Posting 14 saves in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson earned the nod as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Swenson recorded nine saves against North Carolina and her total save count topped the conference over the weekend.
The next weekend — its home opener — Michigan blanked No. 25 Liberty, 3-0. Swenson had another distinguished performance, notching her 11th career shutout with six saves.
Last Sunday, however, No. 4 Connecticut thwarted the Wolverines’ win streak, serving Michigan a 2-1 defeat.
The Wolverines will have a change of pace this weekend, hosting their first unranked competitors in the Wolverine Classic. Michigan will play a pair of games against nonconference opponents William & Mary and UC Davis, on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
William & Mary (3-1) is likely to provide steeper competition for Michigan, as the Tribe rides a three-game win streak heading into the weekend. Forward Cammie Lloyd leads William & Mary’s offensive efforts with three goals and an assist, contributing to the Tribe’s eight goals on the season.
UC Davis (0-4) heads into the Classic without a win and with only one goal so far this year. Though the Aggies’ attack has struggled, they have had a tough schedule with three of their four opponents being ranked competitors. UC Davis’ defense has been sturdier, with goalkeeper Chelsea Bigelow owning an impressive .714 save percentage.
The Wolverines have an offensive advantage over both teams, having scored 12 goals on the season. Sophomore forward Meg Dowthwaite and sophomore midfielder Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort have emerged as leaders of Michigan’s attack, largely contributing to its scoring success. Dowthwaite leads the Wolverines in both goals and points and ranks second in the Big Ten for goals scored. Lacort tops the conference with five assists, with a 1.25 assist-per-game average.
Michigan has shown so far that it is a well-rounded team, and if the Wolverines can keep up their level of play, they will have a shot at earning a second weekend sweep.