All year, the Michigan field hockey team has relied on its
defense to carry it to victory. Senior captains Kate Dillon and
Katy Moyneur have led the unit, but junior Lori Hillman has also
played a pivotal role for the Wolverines.
While Hillman may not show up in the box score with tons of
goals and assists, her work in the defensive backfield has helped
pace Michigan to a No. 9 ranking and a share of the Big Ten regular
“My role is as a vocal leader, but also to lead by
example,” Hillman said.
Hillman’s leadership and defensive ability impressed
enough people for her to earn the season’s final Big Ten
Defensive Player of the Week award yesterday.
Hillman led the Michigan defense to its eighth shutout of the
season. Against Penn State on Saturday, the Wolverines held the
Nittany Lions to five shots — just three of which were on
The Penn State game was not an aberration for Hillman. She has
been solid for Michigan all year long.
Hillman’s ability was evident two weekends ago against
Ohio State, when she helped prevent the Buckeyes from getting even
a single shot on goal. Hillman and the rest of the defense kept the
Buckeyes far away from Michigan goalies Beth Riley and Molly
Maloney by switching positions with senior captain Adrienne
“They are interchangeable, and the center midfield is a
lot of running and we wanted to keep Adrienne fresh,” coach
Marcia Pankratz said. “Lori is a really strong defender and
we were able to make those adjustments.”
Hillman believes that her tenacity as a defender is her best
asset on the field. The Buckeyes got to see a lot of that
determination. With back-to-back games, Hillman knew that the
defensive backfield could be tired, so the switch did not come as a
“We had back-to-back games and we just needed to keep
everyone fresh,” the Gibbsboro, N.J., native said.
Position swapping between Hillman, Hortillosa and Moyneur
frequently occurs because Pankratz is confident that they are smart
enough to know when to make the decision to change spots.
Pankratz’s faith in Hillman to make on-the-field adjustments
demonstrates Hillman’s maturation as a leader on the team.
Hillman earned Pankratz’s trust from the beginning, and she
has started every game since she stepped on campus.
“It was a hard transition from sophomore to junior,
especially with the class we lost,” Hillman said. “The
captains were named, but that doesn’t mean that nobody else
can step up to a leadership role.”
With its victory against Penn State, Michigan wrapped up a
first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan’s
opponent will be either Ohio State or Penn State — two teams
that know the strengths of Hillman and the rest of the Michigan
defense all too well.
To advance in the Big Ten Tournament, Hillman said Michigan
needs to continue to focus on the basics.
“I definitely think that we are going in the right
direction,” the Academic All-Big Ten selection said.
“We’ve been playing really well together, and I’m
expecting great things for the end of the season.”