STATE COLLEGE – After learning of its draw on Tuesday night, the Michigan field hockey team knew it would need very little scouting on its first-round NCAA opponent.

Michigan was slated to play Princeton in the first round. It was a rematch of last year’s NCAA semifinal matchup, which saw the Wolverines overcome two one-goal deficits to hand the Tigers a 4-2 loss in Kent, Ohio. Michigan went on to win the national championship and Princeton went back home to prepare for this season.

“We knew that they hadn’t lost any players from their semifinal team last year,” Michigan coach Marica Pankratz said. “We thought the draw was a very difficult draw.”

The Tigers had been waiting for a chance to play Michigan again, and got their revenge by putting the shoe on the other foot – overcoming two one-goal leads by Michigan to down the Wolverines 4-3.

“We think we’re a better team than last season,” Princeton coach Beth Bozman said. “You don’t defeat your opponent by hating them, you defeat them by being better.”

As a rematch of last year’s Final Four showdown, the Wolverines prepared for a tough game, anticipating the tempo would be similar to last season’s game with Princeton.

“We considered it a semifinal matchup, because we knew it would be very, very close,” Pankratz said.

Blame it on the rain: All season, the Wolverines have been fortunate not to have played in poor weather conditions (the one exception being the Oct. 4 game in Ann Arbor against Michigan State), but Saturday’s game in State College saw the worst storm all season. Torrential rains, howling winds and freezing temperatures made keeping warm difficult, much less staying alert during the game.

But the conditions didn’t seem to bother the players on either team, who shut out the weather and focused on the game.

“I feel like we’ve had weather like this a lot this season,” Princeton forward Rachael Beckler said. “I didn’t realize how bad it was until we stopped playing.”

As the game progressed, the rain picked up in intensity, but the players responded, as four goals were scored in the second half.

“I was really proud of the way our team carried ourselves and the way we responded to some of the (weather) out there,” Michigan defender Stephanie Johnson said.

End of the new season: After the disappointing loss to Michigan State last weekend at the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines refocused and looked at the NCAA Tournament as a chance to put any setbacks during the regular season behind them.

But Michigan couldn’t help but feel disheartened after losing one week into the postseason.

“I think it’s disappointing because it’s a new season with NCAAs and our goals were set high and we certainly had a goal to get to the semifinals,” Pankratz said.

Despite the obvious frustration and discontent after the loss, Johnson felt that the team still carried themselves as champions.

“I was really proud of the way we held our heads up and walked off the field as a team,” said Johnson, who is one of the co-captains. “We win as a team and lose as a team and we carried that with us today.”

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