Though it may seem like it just started, we are hitting the homestretch of regular season play for some of the fall team sports. The soccer and field hockey teams are close enough to the Big Ten Tournament that we can start thinking about seeding, while golf and tennis are within a couple tournaments of wrapping up their fall seasons.
This Week’s One Thing
Baseball v. Dayton, Sun Oct 20, Noon
Baseball is beginning is exhibition season this Sunday with its only home exhibition. After their incredible World Series finals run this is a chance to get your first look at this year’s edition of the Wolverines, before they head to Vanderbilt for a championship rematch. It’s supposed to be a pretty nice day and spending a 60 degree October afternoon at the ballpark seems like as good of a way to spend your time as any. Honorable mentions go to Friday night’s volleyball game and field hockey game, both against ranked opponents.
Tue Oct 22, Men’s Soccer v. Notre Dame, 7p, ACCN
Most home and other conference games on BTN+.
Volleyball (12-4, 5-1 B1G)
Last Week: 3-1 W @ Iowa, 3-0 L @ #5 Nebraska
Upcoming: Fri Oct 18, 7p v. #8 Penn St, Crisler Center, Sat Oct 19, 7p v. Rutgers, Cliff Keen Arena
Volleyball split its weekend, winning the one it was supposed to and falling short of an upset on Sunday. On Friday night the Wolverines headed to Iowa, where for the first time in Big Ten play they lost a set. Going back to the Notre Dame game before conference play began, Michigan had gone on an incredible 15-set winning streak that included the first four Big Ten games. It came to an end in the third set against the Hawkeyes, but the Wolverines bounced back to take the fourth set and a match. In Sunday’s contest they travelled to #5 Nebraska, and while each set was close individually the Wolverines stumbled to a 3-0 loss, their first in Big Ten play.
Friday night will allow them a second chance for a ranked win in the friendlier confines of Crisler Center, when #8 Penn St. comes to town. Penn St. also carries a Big Ten loss, theirs to Wisconsin. They’ll return, at long last, to Cliff Keen Arena on Saturday, for a contest with Rutgers. Rutgers is, well, Rutgers, and is 0-6 in conference play. Most but not all of the Wolverines’ remaining Big Ten games are at Cliff Keen.
Volleyball does not have a conference tournament, which is very surprising considering how much of the conference plays volleyball. At one-loss, the Big Ten Championship is still on the table, but it is unlikely that Championship would come outright.
#9 Field Hockey (10-3, 3-1 B1G)
Last Week: 2-1 W (OT) @ OSU, 6-0 W v. Ball St.
Upcoming: Fri Oct 18, 6p v. #2 Maryland, Sun Oct 20, 12p v. Penn St.
Field Hockey traveled to Columbus for two games, one against Ohio State and a neutral-site game against Ball St. and came away with wins in both. The win over the Buckeyes took overtime, after a scoreless contest became a 1-1 contest over the course of two minutes early in the fourth quarter. The winning tally came from Meg Doutwaithe, who added another against Ball St. the next day to take the solo team lead at 7. The Ball St. match went to the fourth quarter 2-0, before a late scoring outburst put the contest out of reach. The Wolverines scored three goals in the final three minutes of the match, and won 6-0. Michigan was rewarded with a Top 10 ranking, climbing from #11 to #9.
With just four games left in the Big Ten season, every match is crucial, but its possible none are more crucial than an opportunity to host #2 Maryland on Friday night. Only one team will get a bye in the Big Ten Tournament and with no ranked teams left on Michigan’s schedule, Maryland is the biggest obstacle to that bye. It will be a tall task, as Maryland only has one loss despite its murderer’s row of a non-conference schedule.
In general, Big Ten Field Hockey is very bunched up, with five teams with two or fewer losses. Splitting the weekend would go a long way towards earning one of the top 4 seeds, allowing them to open the Big Ten Tourney against a lower seed, and a weekend sweet would put them in pole position for the #1 seed, as they would hold the tiebreaker with Maryland. Michigan will have a second game Sunday, against a Penn St. squad that is 2-2 in B1G play.
#19 Women’s Soccer (11-3-1, 19 points (6-1-1) B1G)
Last Week: 4-1 W @ Ilinois, 2-1 W (OT) @ Northwestern
Upcoming: Fri Oct 18, 5p @ MSU
Michigan was ranked briefly and fell out after the Wisconsin loss, but with its sweep in Illinois this weekend women’s soccer has vaulted back into the polls, sitting at #19. Michigan hammered Illinois in it’s Friday night contest, with Raleigh Loughman and Danielle Wolfe each scoring two of Michigan’s four goals. Michigan went to overtime in Evanston on Sunday, in a match that was 0-0 for 88 minutes, before a Nicki Hernandez goal was immediately followed by a PK goal from Northwestern. Meredith Haakenson scored the goal to end the contest eight minutes into overtime. Haakenson leads the team in goals at 7, where Loughman’s 6 goals and 6 assists have propelled her to a lead in points.
It’s now worth considering Big Ten Tournament seeding scenarios. Michigan is in first place in the Big Ten, but Wisconsin is undefeated and has two games in hand, making the first place claim somewhat specious. At any rate, the top four teams will host BTT first round matches, and the magic number to clinch hosting is 25 points. Michigan can achieve that by winning two of its final three, but can also clinch just by beating Rutgers next week. Rutgers is the only team that could unseat a Michigan that lost out, a Michigan win over Rutgers would make that impossible. A win for the Wolverines combined with a Rutgers loss achieves the same effect.
Michigan has one match this weekend, a trip to East Lansing to take on the rival Spartans. Michigan State is 1-5-1 in Big Ten play, but a rivalry’s a rivalry.
Men’s Soccer (6-4-3, 8 points (2-1-2) B1G)
Last Week: 1-0 L @ #4 Indiana, 2-1 L v. WMU
Upcoming: Tue Oct 22, 7p @ Notre Dame, ACCN
Michigan played a tough match at #4 Indiana, and for much of the match looked like they had a goal in them. They got chances and played good defense, but ultimately Indiana is just the better team. Indiana scored in the 66th minute, and while the Wolverines pushed for a goal the 1-0 margin was the final score. Michigan also lost a non-conference contest, against WMU. Western scored in just two minutes, and while Nebojsa Popovic tied it up in the second half, the Broncos responded a minute later, holding on for a 2-1 final.
Men’s soccer can also start thinking about hosting the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, and is in a similar situation to the women. Technically, Michigan needs to sweep its final three games to guarantee hosting. However, because one of those matches is against Maryland, the team most positioned to overtake them, they probably only need two of the three.
Michigan will play a second consecutive weeknight non-conference match-up, travelling to a Notre Dame squad that has struggled in conference play, in a match that will be available on TV on the ACC Network.
Last Week: ITA All-American, Tulsa, OK
This Week: ITA Midwest Regional, East Lansing, MI
Last week Chiara Lommer and Guilia Pairone participated in the All-American tournament, with both falling in the first round. This week they’ll head to East Lansing. Eight Michigan athletes, Lommer and Pairone included, will participate in the tournament, with the two finalists winning automatic berths to the ITA Fall National Championship in in Arizona.
Last Week: Michigan State Invitational
This Week: ITA Midwest Regional, Columbus, OH
Andrew Fenty and Mattias Siimar won an oddly formatted tournament at Michigan State, in which they got one point each round for doubles, and could each earn a point as a team for singles. They swept all three rounds, never losing a match of any time. The men’s ITA Regional Championships will be in Columbus, with the same stakes as the women’s tournament.
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This Week: ?????????????
When I wrote this column last week, Michigan was scheduled to participate in the Oakland Relays. They didn’t. Additionally, there was a double-dual meet against Virginia and Tennessee this weekend. That will also not be happening. It appears that the Cavs and Vols pulled out over water quality concerns at Canham Natatorium, which Michigan claims are no longer valid. Michigan has replaced the dual with an intrasquad scrimmage.
Last Week: 10th of 14 at Crooked Stick Invitational, Carmel, IN
Upcoming: Mon-Tue Oct 21-22, Royal Oaks Intercollegiate, Dallas, TX (Baylor hosts)
Last week Michigan came in 10th in Indiana, four strokes behind their conference rival and host. The individual leader was Charlie Pilon, who tied for 21st, and led the team with a second round 71. This week they will travel to Dallas for their final tournament of the fall season. They will look to improve on last year’s last place performance in the same tournament.
Last Week: 13th of 16 at Ruth’s Chris Tarheel Invitational, Chapel Hill, NC
Michigan women’s golf placed 13th in North Carolina, paced by freshman Anika Dy, who tied for 27th. The low round of the tournament was a round two 71 by Ashley Lau. The Wolverines are off this week, with one fall tournament remaining.
#18 Men’s Cross Country
Upcoming: Fri Oct 18, 1p, Nuttycombe Invitational, Madison, WI
After a week off Men’s Cross Country will travel to Wisconsin for a race that will feature many of the nation’s top teams. They will join Purdue and Indiana, as well as the hosts, in their final look at conference opponents before the Big Ten Championships.
#7 Women’s Cross Country
Upcoming: Sat Oct 19, 11a, Pre-National Invitational, Terre Haute, IN
After a fourth place performance there a few weeks ago, women’s cross country will again travel to Indiana St. and the site of this year’s national championships. While Michigan is the top Big Ten team in the field, there will be several other top 10 opponents, including #2 BYU.
Last Week: Scrimmage v. OSU
Upcoming: Sun Oct 20, 2:49p, Head of the Charles, Boston, MA
Michigan rowing held a scrimmage against OSU, with both teams winning some events. Strictly speaking regular races weren’t held, but the staggered-start format was designed to provide the feeling of head-to-head racing. Michigan has one final varsity even this fall, the prestigious Head of the Charles in Boston. Michigan will send two eights boats.