Last year, I went to 27 Michigan events that were not football, hockey, or men’s basketball. I went to sports I had never watched before, saw comebacks and upsets and NCAA Tournament play. Mostly, I had a blast. When I proposed this column, it was ultimately because I hoped that maybe after reading about a team for a few weeks, someone might decide to go to the game.
You should go to the Michigan game. I don’t care which one. Maybe you like soccer. Maybe your kid plays lacrosse. Maybe it’s $1 night for gymnastics. Maybe it’s a warm day and they’re playing baseball. You should go to the Michigan game, whatever Michigan game that might be.
All this to say I’m introducing a new section. Right at the top of every What Else Is Blue, will be a recommendation for what you should go to if you have time for one thing, the best thing that will be on-campus that week. I don’t make it out to something every week, but that week if you’ve got room in your heart and your schedule (and maybe your wallet, but most non-rev tickets max out at $6 if they’re not just free) for one thing, let me help you pick that thing. Under that will be this week’s tv info, all at once, right up top.
We’re in the busiest part of the non-rev calendar and we have several exciting events to recap and a TON of events to preview. Settle in.
This Week’s One Thing
Volleyball v. Notre Dame, Sun Sep 22, 3p, Crisler Arena
Volleyball hosts the Ann Arbor leg of a true home-and-home with Notre Dame at Crisler, after losing a 3-2 heartbreaker in South Bend on Wednesday. Both teams scored at least 20 in the first four sets and the fifth ended 15-13, so you can be sure you’ll get your money’s worth in what shapes up to be another long match between two competitive squads. Michigan will be looking for revenge, and a big Crisler crowd could provide the boost they need.
TV This Week
Thu Sep 19: Women’s Soccer @ #23 Penn St, 6p, BTN
Sun Sep 22: Volleyball v. Notre Dame, 3p, ESPNU
Tue Sep 24: Men’s Golf, Inverness Invitational, Toledo, OH, Noon, ESPN3
Most other home and conference events are on BTN+.
Upcoming: Fri Sep 20, 2p v. Kentucky (Doubleheader), Sun Sep 22, 12p v. Kentucky
I’m putting this up top as sort of an honorable mention for this week’s one thing to attend: Softball will begin its exhibition season with a trio against Kentucky. Kentucky lost in the Super Regional last year while the Wolverines suffered a disappointing regional exit. Later in the fall they’ll have a home-and-home with the Spartans, but this is your first chance to see how the softball roster might look in the spring. Admission is free. We’ll do a real softball preview in the spring.
#9 Field Hockey (4-2)
Last Week: 3-2 W v. #3 UConn, 3-0 W @ CMU
Upcoming: Sun Sep 22, 1p v. Kent St.
Michigan field hockey picked up a huge victory on Friday night, upsetting #3 UConn at home. Michigan scored two goals in the second quarter, with Fay Keijer scoring her first of the season and Kayla Reed adding the second just before halftime. UConn scored early in the third and it was a 2-1 game for much of the second half, before Sarah Pyrtek hit this no-doubter off the rebound to seal the W:
UConn added a second with just seconds to play, but it was too little too late. Michigan then travelled to Mount Pleasant, where they scored three goals, including Meg Dowthwaite’s team-leading fourth. The Wolverines held CMU to just 3 shots. For their efforts, Michigan was bumped from #11 to #9.
Michigan will host 4-3 Kent State on Sunday. Kent State recently fell to the Spartans 1-0, and will also play Iowa on Saturday, with Ann Arbor serving as a neutral site host.
Women’s Soccer (5-2)
Last Week: 2-1 W @ #13 Washington St
Upcoming: Thu Sep 19, 6p @ #23 Penn St (BTN), Sun Sep 22, 2p @ OSU
Michigan women’s soccer pulled off a huge upset late last Friday night, marching into Pullman and beating the Washington State Cougars. There were two keys to this match: first, Michigan was up 2-0 by the fourth minute. Sarah Stratigakis and Meredith Haakenson continued the positive start to their seasons, scoring about a minute apart. Michigan did not score in the other 86 minutes of this match, and much of the credit for keeping Michigan on top goes to keeper Hillary Beall and her 12 saves. Wazzu finally broke through for one at 70’, but both before and after the goal, Beall made a series of impressive saves:
With the non-con schedule over and sitting on a 5-2 record with a road ranked win, Michigan has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large with a good Big Ten performance. The Wolverines open B1G play Thursday at 4-3-1 Penn State, who dropped from #8 to #23 after two losses last week. Two of Penn State’s losses are to current Top 3 teams, and last week’s loss to Virginia propelled the Cavaliers to #1. The Penn State game will be Michigan’s first (non-football) event on the Big Ten Network this year. They’ll stay on the road and head to Columbus, where the Buckeyes are looking to recover from a 2-4-1 non-conference season.
Men’s Soccer (3-2-1)
Last Week: 1-1 T @ Omaha, 2-0 W v. Oakland
Upcoming: Sat Sep 21, 3p, v. #24 Rutgers
Michigan men’s soccer went to Omaha for its first road test of the year against what projected to be an easy opponent. Playing on the road is never easy though, and the home team held the Wolverines scoreless for 75 minutes, and then held them again through 20 minutes of overtime. Derek Broche notched the one tally. Back in friendlier confines Michigan beat in-state opponent Oakland for the second year in a row. Reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Jack Hallahan scored his first goal of the year, and former Grizzly Nebojsa Popovic put one through against his former team. (In a touch of class, he did not celebrate.)
Michigan hosts Rutgers in their Big Ten opener. Rutgers compiled a 5-0-1 record in non-conference play, and climbed into the polls this week despite picking up their first non-win against Penn in a 1-1 tie on Tuesday night. The match will be on BTN+. While the early non-conference season is over, Michigan will actually have three more non-con games scattered throughout the Big Ten season.
Last Week: 3-0 W v. Navy, 3-0 W v. EMU, NOTRE DAME
Upcoming: Sun Sep 22, 3p v. Notre Dame (Crisler Arena), Wed Sep 25, 7p @ Rutgers
Michigan volleyball opened its Crisler Arena series by sweeping two consecutive games, beating both Navy and EMU by 3-0 scores. Navy especially was able to keep it close, scoring over 20 in all three sets, but wasn’t able to make any late runs. Paige Jones led both matches, with 12 kills against Navy, and 15 against EMU. The Wolverines then travelled to Notre Dame, where they lost a hard-fought 3-2 match. Four out of the five sets were within 2 points. With the final set sitting at 13-13, Notre Dame won the next two to take the match. Jones racked up 21 kills in this one, completing her impressive week.
As stated above, Michigan will close its home-and-home with ND Sunday, with ESPNU broadcasting the contest. They’ll then travel to New Jersey to open Big Ten play against Rutgers. Rutgers is 6-3, with the six wins coming consecutively after opening 0-3.
Last Week: 2nd place (of 13) at Glass City Invitational, Toledo, OH
I am very excited to talk to you about women’s golf. The Wolverines had one of their best performances in several years, coming in second at Toledo’s Glass City Invitational at Inverness Club. It was their first second place finish since 2017, and they shot a team -1 on the final day, the best team score of the third round. Ultimately they weren’t able to pass Florida, who won by four strokes, but held off the surging Spartans by five.
The Wolverines compiled some extremely impressive individual performances, with three golfers in the individual top ten. Sophomore Sophia Trombetta came in third at even par, after a 2018-19 season without a top 10 finish by a Wolverine. Freshman Hailey Borja started her career with a bang, tying for fourth at +1, and senior Hannah Ghelfi’s +4 earned her a tie for ninth. This is an incredibly encouraging start for the Wolverines, and it’ll be exciting to see if they can keep up the momentum.
Women’s golf is off this week.
Last Week: 13th place (of 14) at Windon Memorial Classic, Lake Forest, IL
Upcoming: Mon-Tue Sep 23-24, Inverness Invitational, Toledo, OH
The men opened their season with a little less fanfare, finishing 13th at the Windon Memorial. In the first event for new coach Zach Barlow, the Wolverines struggled, finishing 41 strokes behind tournament winner Notre Dame, but holding off Northern Illinois by 11 strokes to avoid last. A bright spot for the Wolverines was senior Brent Ito, whose -1 finish earned him 9th place.
Next week the Wolverines will hope for the same luck the women experienced at Inverness, as they head there for the Inverness Invitational. The final few hours of the final round Tuesday will be on ESPN3, which is free with a cable login.
Last Week: Napa Valley Tennis Classic
Upcoming: Fri-Sun Sep 20-22, Battle of the Bay Invite, San Fran, CA, Ivy Plus, Princeton, NJ
Men’s tennis opened their season by sending four competitors to the Napa Valley Tennis Classic. Leading the crew was Nick Beaty, who went 2-1. No other athlete had a winning record. The big news this week is the release of the first ITA Singles Rankings. 2018-19 Freshman of the Year Andrew Fenty is ranked #30, and Mattias Siimiar is #53. Michigan is favored to have a repeat Freshman of the Year, as Ondrej Styler led the Freshman/Newcomer rankings.
This week Michigan will split up, with some going to the Battle of the Bay in California, and others going to the Ivy Plus in New Jersey. These are both also singles events, but more players should get their first reps in this week.
Upcoming: Fri-Sun Sep 20-22, 10a Fri, 9:30a S-S, Wolverine Invitational, Ann Arbor, MI
The Michigan women have not started their season, but also had a pair feature in the ITA Singles Rankings. Chiara Lommer was pegged at #28, while Giulia Pairone was tabbed at #49.
The Wolverines open their season at home with the Wolverine Invitational. Including Michigan eight schools will participate, including a grudge match between Arizona St and MSU. While it is an individual tournament without team scoring, schools will be paired for their matches, so Michigan will get its first look at Notre Dame and MSU squads they will see during the team season. Competition starts at 10:00 AM on Friday and 9:30 AM on Saturday and Sunday, and as always for tennis admission is free.
Upcoming: Fri-Sat Sep 20-21, Fri 5p, 12p Sat, v. Navy and Miami (OH),
Michigan swimming and diving will open their season with dual meets against Miami (OH) and Navy. On the men’s side both visiting teams will be conference champions, while on the women’s side the same is only true for Navy. This will be a simultaneous dual meet, with Michigan competing with each school individually and the visitors competing with each other. As such, it’ll be contested over two days. Admission is free, as always for swimming.
#17 Men’s Cross Country
Upcoming: Fri Sep 20, 6p, adidas XC Challenge, Cary, NC
After participating in the Michigan Open a few weeks ago, cross country will begin its competitive season at the NC State-hosted adidas XC Challenge. Per the athletic department, this will be a roster of up-and-comers, with many of the Wolverines heavy hitters getting their first starts over the next few weeks. Michigan is the only non-Carolinian school participating.
#4 Women’s Cross Country
Upcoming: Sat Sep 21, 9:45a, John McNichols Invitational, Terre Haute, IN
The Michigan women’s XC team will travel to Indiana State to participate in the John McNichols Invitational, at the same site that will eventually hold this year’s NCAA Championships. Almost 30 teams are attending, including conference mates Illinois, Purdue, and #9 Wisconsin. #3 Washington will be the only team in attendance ranked higher than Michigan. As it features so many ranked teams, the Wolverines are sending a strong lineup, including freshman and Michigan Open winner Ericka VanderLende. The meet will be available on FloTrack.