On the Michigan field hockey roster, there is a ‘Fr.’ next to Jill Civic’s name.
But in the eyes of her teammates, there is no such thing as a freshman.
Civic was the catalyst for the Wolverines in yesterday’s 5-0 win over New Hampshire, jumpstarting the offense against the Wildcats (2-4).
Just 12 seconds into the game, the freshman found the ball off a New Hampshire defender and put it past the goalie on the right side. Civic, second on the team in goals (six), certainly does not play like a freshman.
“The freshman jitters are out now,” Civic said. “I feel comfortable.”
But then again, no one expects her to perform like an underclassman.
“We told all the freshmen that you aren’t freshmen,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. “There is no freshman class, and our expectations are higher than that.”
Civic understands there is no emphasis put on age at Michigan.
“Every day you earn your spot and the coaches put the best players out there,” Civic said. “They don’t care how old you are.”
The lone goal stood for the remainder of the first half, and No. 7 Michigan (4-2) pounded New Hampshire (2-4) with 13 shots on goal. Michigan rarely let the ball cross over midfield, holding New Hampshire to no shots on goal.
“We were confident and executed our fundamentals,” Pankratz said. “Fundamentally, if you feel good and you’re confident where you put the ball, you can play good possession hockey.”
It wasn’t until the second half that Michigan reignited its offense.
Once again, it was the underclassmen providing the boost. Sophomore Lori Hillman’s unselfishness fostered two assists.
Her first was to senior captain April Fronzoni just 2:35 into the second half. Fronzoni found the pass and swept to the right side to put it in.
“Hillman has played like an upperclassman since the day she got here,” Pankratz said. “She’s in the middle of the field, and she’s a smart player. She is on, and our team is in good shape.”
A captain also agrees.
“Hillman has stepped up,” Fronzoni said. “It’s good to have some help and take some pressure off the upperclassmen.”
Hillman’s second assist went to another freshman, Mary Fox, for the first goal of her career. Fox’s goal put Michigan up by five and the scoring rout ended.
The Wolverines had an astounding 37 shots on goal, compared to one shot by the Wildcats.
The victory capped a complete shutout this weekend, as the Wolverines blanked Ohio 6-0 on Friday. It was ball control and defense that was essential in that victory as well.
“I was more impressed with our defense this weekend because we shut teams out,” Pankratz said. “Even though we’ve scored a lot of goals over the years, our strength has been limiting shots and playing tenacious defense. This weekend, I was very proud of them for doing that.”
Along with Civic’s two goals, another freshman, goaltender Beth Riley, helped provide the shutout against Ohio (1-3) in her first collegiate start.
“It’s awesome – our freshman class is amazing,” Fronzoni said. “They hold their own, and sometimes, instead of taking them under our wing, we go under theirs.”