For the first time in the history of Michigan field hockey, it will be hosting an NCAA regional. Joining the Wolverines in Ann Arbor will be North Carolina, Michigan State and Kent State.
“We”re thrilled” Sophomore forward April Fronzoni said.”This is a little shocking, but a great opportunity and it couldn”t of come at a better time.”
“I”m very excited to be playing at home,” Tasch said “I”m from Ann Arbor and having some of my family and friends there will be great.”
The Wolverines have struggled over the past four weeks, managing just a 4-3 record. Last weekend against Ohio State, Michigan suffered its first loss in three seasons of Big Ten Tournament competition.
After a disappointing season, the Wolverines look to rebound with a successful post- season run.
“We were meant to learn some lessons early this season” Fronzoni said “But it”s better to have learned them before the tournament.”
“We had some glitches, but we”ve been working on them all season” goalie Maureen Tasch said. “We”re prepared for anything.”
Action will begin Saturday morning at 11 a.m. when Michigan plays North Carolina. The Tar Heels, the fourth seed in the tournament, are the top seed in the section of the NCAA Tournament being hosted in Ann Arbor.
This will be the second meeting this season between the Wolverines and the Tar Heels. At the Temple Invitational in early September, Michigan fell in overtime 2-1 in a competitive match.
“Carolina”s a great program” Fronzoni said, “We played a tough-fought match earlier in the season and we”re excited to play them once again. We out-shot them and out-cornered them, so we”re feeling good.”
“It was a tough, tough game,” said Catherine Foreman “But we”re looking good.”
In the second round-of-16 matchup, Michigan State will take on Kent State at 2 p.m.
“This will be wonderful and very exciting” coach Marcia Pankratz said, “These are four really tight teams in ability, and this will be a great hockey event.”
The Wolverines are viewing this tournament as a new season and an opportunity to make up for some difficulties earlier in the season.
“This is the absolute best-case scenario,” Tasch said.
Although this weekend will mark the team”s first opportunity to host an NCAA regional, it will also mark the final home matches for seniors Catherine Foreman, Maureen Tasch, Jessie Veith, Laura Stinson and Ali Balmer.
“It”d be great to go out with two wins and a spot in the Final Four,” Foreman said.
Due in large part to this senior class Michigan has turned its field hockey program around. In its sophomore year, the team won its first Big Ten Tournament title in many years, received its first bid to the NCAA Tournament in team history and ended up placing second in the tournament.
“Due to this senior class, expectations for this team have risen,” Pankratz said. “Because of their dedication and commitment, the success of our program has risen greatly.”
The Wolverines feel optimistic about the remainder of their season. They”ve had some difficult times, but view hosting this regional as a great chance for redemption.
They”ve dominated every opponent they”ve faced this year. In every game they”ve out-shot their opponent and out-cornered them, but failed to capitalize, resulting in five losses. With several victories over top-10 teams, including a victory over defending champion Old Dominion, the team knows that it can beat any team on any given day.
“We know we can out-shoot anyone” Tasch said, “It”s a great feeling going into such a big tournament.”