After sitting out five minutes of the game due to a yellow card,
senior tri-captain Stephanie Johnson ran on to the field with fire
in her eyes. But her intensity got the best of her on Saturday as
the fifth-ranked Wolverines were knocked out of the Big Ten
Tournament 1-0 in overtime by No. 4-seed Penn State.

Kate Green
FILE PHOTO
Michigan field hockey coach Marcia Pankratz has established a new level of toughness with the Wolverines since her arrival in 1996.

“Without question it is a disappointing loss,” coach
Marcia Pankratz said. “We did have our opportunities to
score, but we had to handle a lot of adversity. I am just so proud
of how our players handled that adversity. We played with
confidence and a lot of poise, and we outplayed Penn State. But we
have to be able to finish. It was just one of those games that it
just didn’t go our way.”

Top-seed Michigan was down a player for the final 24:19 of the
game, as Johnson was given a red card for an aggressive tackle late
in the second half.

“The umpire called her for a hard tackle,” Pankratz
said. “He ejected her from the game for that hard tackle. The
people that were watching the game can consider it a hard tackle or
not. I think it was very unfortunate, and we just had to accept the
umpire call and move on. We tried to do the best we can and those
kind of things are just out of our control.”

Johnson was crowned the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
this season, so Michigan had a lot to overcome.

“Stephanie played a great game,” Pankratz said.
“She had wonderful clean tackles all game, and she’s an
all-American defender. So for her to be taken off the field really
hurts our team. That was just some adversity that our team had to
overcome, and I think we did that.”

Despite convincingly beating the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions
(3-3 Big Ten, 18-5 overall) a week ago to close out the regular
season, the Wolverines’ (5-1, 15-6) offense couldn’t
find a way to penetrate Penn State’s defense.

In this overtime matchup, Michigan outshot Penn State 18-7,
including 9-2 in the second half alone. Michigan also outcornered
the Nittany Lions, 10-5, with seven of those corners coming in the
second half.

Penn State’s Timarie Legel beat Michigan freshman
goaltender Beth Riley just a little more than three minutes into
overtime for the game-winning goal.

“To go into overtime and play down a player is really
difficult,” Pankratz said. “Cause the way things went,
I am just so impressed of how our players responded. They played
hard and really dominated the overtime, and it was just one of
those things that a ball just bounced a couple wrong ways for us. I
thought we played really well.”

Penn State goaltender Annie Kinkavich, who surrendered five
goals in the last matchup between the two clubs, had seven saves in
the win.

Kinkavich fought off efforts from senior tri-captain April
Fronzoni and sophomore Lori Hillman. Fronzoni led the Wolverines
with four shots on goal. Hillman tallied two shots. Michigan was
shutout for the first time since the first game of the season
against North Carolina.

With no one scoring in the matchup until the overtime, defense
was the key to the game.

“I think Kristi Gannon played a great defensive game as
always,” Pankratz said. “She just played really well.
She took a lot of beatings and got up. She had a strong game and
everybody did. We did everything we could to win it, and it just
didn’t turn out that way for reasons that are out of our
control.”

Michigan will now await the NCAA’s selections for the 2003
NCAA Tournament. The tournament will consist of the top 16 teams in
the nation. The selection will be announced tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Despite the loss, Michigan will most likely be a part of the
national tournament and has a message to send to their
opponents.

“Just wait,” Pankratz said. “We are going to
blow through NCAA. These are great kids and just look
out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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