It's BigTen season opener weekend across the Michigan sports world this weekend. Not only is football opening conference play, but volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer, and field hockey do as well. Men's and Women's golf are also in action, with the men hosting and the Women on the road at Wisconsin.
Chronologically by first game:
Record: 2-6 (33rd in Coaches Poll as other receiving votes, 18 out of 79 in RPI)
- Friday 3pm – vs. Iowa (tape delay on BTN*)
- Sunday 1pm – vs. Penn State
After suffering two heartbreaking losses in overtime last weekend, Michigan faces an 24th ranked (others receiving vote section, 23rd in RPI) Iowa team that is performing well under their expected level. At 2-5, the BigTen Champions of the last three years in a row are struggling this season. The Hawkeyes are coming off an impressive 12-0 victory over Saint Louis, but they have been less than impressive during the rest of the year, going just 2-1 against unranked teams.
As for Michigan against Iowa, if they want to compare common opponents to the Hawkeyes, this weekend could end up going well. Michigan lost 1-2 to UNC and Wake Forest in the ACC/Big10 challenge while Iowa lost 2-3 and 0-5 respectively.
Penn State enters the weekend at 2-7. The Nittany Lions are winless away from State College, but they come in at 28th in the RPI and 29th in the Coaches poll. Penn State isn't a big goal scoring team, with just 10 goals in 9 games, five of which came in a rout of West Chester.
*The game will be broadcast on Sunday 9/27 at 6pm ET. I'm not sure if I can catch it, so if anyone wants to MGoVideo it for me, many praises to you
Record: 12-1 (#8 in Coaches Poll)
- Friday 7pm @ Indiana
- Saturday 7pm @ Purdue (#30 in Coaches Poll in other receiving votes)
After suffering the first loss of the season last weekend, Michigan looks to get back on another winning streak as they open BigTen play with Indiana and Purdue. Indiana is pretty weak again this year. Michigan has taken 5 straight matches from the Hoosiers and looks to make it 6.
Purdue is right on the edge of making the top 25. Michigan hasn't had too much recent success with the Boilermakers over the last few years, including a split last year, each team winning the home game. Michigan lost at West Lafayette last year despite a 2-0 set lead. Dare I say vintage Michigan over the last few years; so close to winning, but couldn't put it away.
This weekend is the last trip through Indiana for senior captain Megan Bower. The Indianapolis native hopes this trip will be a special one. She was on mgoblue.com this week for a player live chat, and while there she confirmed that the team has rebounded from the loss:
I think we were really looking forward to getting back into the gym and improving... we are really excited to get back out there this weekend. […]
You learn from every match ... obviously we would love to learn from wins rather than losses, but we definitely are fired up to start Big Ten play this weekend. We have been waiting for the start of conference play and we are focused on Indiana and Purdue
She also touched on quite a few other topics of interest, such as her thoughts on the Zone, the coaches, and her future as a coach. All interesting and worth the read through.
- 2009 Wolverine at Radick Farms, Ann Arbor, MI (Sat-Sun)
Along with Michigan, thirteen other teams (alphabetically: Arkansas, Baylor, Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (NTM), Minnesota, Purdue, St. John's, Toledo, Wisconsin and Xavier) descend on Ann Arbor this weekend. The course at Radick Farms is a par 72 at 6,979 yards.
This will be Michigan's only hosted tournament of the year, and sadly, it won't be at their true home course. With the football game against Indiana this year, the game was moved to Radick Farms. Michigan will be in group one with Arkansas and Baylor for the first 36 holes.
I'm hoping to see another great round by Matt Thompson who posted three sub-70 rounds in a row last tournament. His eight under 205 on the weekend was Michigan's second best round of 54 holes ever.
Women Lady's Golf
Rank: T-46 (others receiving votes)
- 2009 Lady Northern Invitational at University Ridge,Madison, WI (Sun-Mon)
The Lady Northern Invitational a par 72, 6,246 yard tournament featuring all 11 BigTen teams and four non-conference opponents (College of Charleston, Iowa State, Georgia and SMU).
Senior Ashley Bauer is the leader for the Wolverines. In her 37 consecutive tournaments played, she's finished in the top 20 a total of 21 times, including 14 in the top 10.
Record: 5-5-0 (unranked)
- Sunday 1pm @ #21 Ohio State
This game should be interesting to say the least. Last year, Michigan gave the Buckeyes their only conference defeat on the season in a 2-0 shut out. That was one of only 4 Michigan victories on the year. The Buckeyes will be looking to get revenge at home this year.
Speaking of that win total from last year, the team has already surpassed that total this year, huzzah!
Other things to keep your eye on include
- Haley Kopemeyer is riding a 188 minute, 15 second shut out streak.
- Holly Hein, who's three goals this season are all game winners
- Jackie Carron, who has more assists already this season than any one has had since 2006. Let me repeat that for clarity: Carron has 6 assists in 10 games this season. No one's had that many in a whole season (19-22 games) since 2006. Wow. One more will tie her for 8th on the Michigan single season assist lead.
Record: 7-1-0 (#21 in Coaches Poll)
- Sunday 2pm @ Penn State
After a break out second half to down
Oakland Bowling Green, including the final two goals in a natural hat trick by Justin Meram, by a score 5-1, Michigan will look to open BigTen play with a win on the road.
Penn State is having a tough season at just 4-3-1, and their goalie played despite having a minor injury last week. The way Michigan has been playing on this 7 game win streak, a win looks very possible.
Michigan split the
season series last year last two meetings with the Nittany Lions, each team winning their home match. PSU is 3-0-1 at home this season.
As per usual, I'll be updating the action in this space throughout the weekend.
Update I (Friday 9:55pm):
Field hockey lost 2-3 in their opener. Meredith Way and Bryn Bain each netted a goal in the first half to stay tied with 5 goals a piece on the season. Michigan took those two goals and a first half shut out all the way to the half. Early in the second half, Iowa struck back with a pair of goals on the power play (Michigan was down 2 players due to yellow cards). Iowa took the lead with just 5 minutes remaining, and junior Alicia Mayer had a chance to tie in the final two minutes on a one-on-one break away that sailed wide right.
When asked about dropping the third straight one goal game, Meredith Way told MGoBlue.com:
We've got to take something away from every game and this one is no different. We were down [a player] most of the game, but we played hard. We can't get down about it. We've got to come out fired up when Penn State comes to town Sunday.
The game will be on BTN on Sunday at 6pm ET. Give it a watch.
In Bloomington, the volleyball team got their biggest road test yet this season. Michigan prevailed pretty easily, winning 26-17, 25-16, and 25-23. First place in the BigTen, baby! 1-0.
While listening to the game you could definitely tell Michigan had a philosophy of spreading the attacks. After last week where the team wasn't balanced against Oregon State, today was exactly opposite. Courtney Fletcher set a new high of 11 kills out of the middle. Her play opened up the sides for Juliana and Alex, who both ended with double digits as well. Fletcher also posted a team high 2 aces on the night.
Michigan was blocked a total of 7 times, which is a bit concerning, but that's going to happen with our lack of size. I'm hoping if our middles can keep up the great play, that number will go down.
What was encouraging though is that Michigan was being pressured in that third set, coming from behind to take it and then following through. Last year, this was the type of set Michigan would have dropped, ultimately leading to a 5 set loss (see @Purdue and @Wisconsin last year). Tonight, they finished the game. That's a big step forward as we hit the toughest part of the season. On to Purdue on Sunday.