It”s been 11 days since the Michigan field hockey team has played a competitive match. But don”t think that the Wolverines are feeling rusty.

Paul Wong
nior Molly Powers and the rest of the Wolverines are itching to play something more than an intrasquad scrimmage.<br><br>FILE PHOTO

“We have had some time off, but we are definitely back on track and ready to get things started with the Big Ten and defend our championship from last year,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. “Emotionally we are doing pretty well too.”

Michigan hosts Massachusetts and Indiana Friday and Sunday, respectively.

The Wolverines, ranked fourth nationally in the last National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, were scheduled to play two games last weekend in Connecticut against Boston College and Connecticut.

Both matches were cancelled due to last week”s terrorist attacks.

So after a few days off, and a few days of what junior forward Molly Powers called, “pretty intensive practices,” the Wolverines are more than ready to get back into the competitive atmosphere.

“It”s been a while since we have competed against anyone but ourselves,” Powers said. “Our hearts weren”t in it last week. But now we are really looking forward to getting back into action.”

Instead of playing their eight scheduled games before this weekend”s matches, the Wolverines (4-2) now only have Friday”s game against Massachusetts (1-2) to prepare for the beginning of Big Ten play.

Michigan has not played Massachusetts, an NCAA quarterfinalist last year, since 1988. That year, the Minutemen knocked off the Wolverines 3-0.

“It”s exciting to play a team that we haven”t met before and see their different style of play,” Powers said, “I think that could help us out.”

Fortunately for Michigan, Sunday”s Big Ten opener just happens to be against an Indiana team that went 1-12 last year including an 8-0 loss to Michigan and has already gotten off to a rocky 1-4 start.

“We don”t take any team lightly,” sophomore forward April Fronzoni said. “But we have high expectations of ourselves and we”re very excited to get going with Big Ten play.”

Although the game is between Michigan and Indiana, it”s safe to say that the people of Oak Park and Lake Bluff, Ill. will be keeping a close eye on the action.

That”s because five players scheduled to play in the game are from the same Oak Park River Forest High School Michigan”s Powers, Jessie Veith and Erin Kopelow and the Hoosiers” Lindsey Nealis and Margaret Dunne.

Michigan”s Molly Maloney, along with three Hoosiers, attended Lake Forest High School in Lake Bluff.

“The two of them are both freshmen and I think of them as friends from home who I used to play soccer with also,” Powers said with a smile in reference to the her former teammates from Oak Park.

“I will say it”s going to be neat for me to show them what the Big Ten is like,” Powers said. “But hey, I”m not going to talk any trash.”

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