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What Else Is Blue Begins the Big Ten Season

Women’s soccer continues to win in the Big Ten’s opening weekend, men’s soccer, volleyball, and field hockey all get ready for Big Ten play, and a ton of individual sport news.

University of Michigan Athletics

In all of the fall team sports, conference play is upon us. In golf and tennis, the fall season is starting to heat up, while cross country and swimming are just getting started. There’s a lot to cover this week, so let’s get to it.

This Week’s One Thing

Women’s Soccer v. Purdue, Fri Sep 27, 7p

I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. I’m trying really hard. But something is happening with the women’s soccer team. They’re on a four game win streak, three of those happened on the road, two were over ranked opponents, and on Friday one of the other 2-0 teams in the Big Ten comes to town (the third is Wisconsin). Purdue will be on the road for the first time in Big Ten play, the Wolverines will be at home for the first time in Big Ten play. A win would prove the Wolverines belong in the conversation, and get them closer to getting ranked. More about getting ranked in the main women’s soccer section.

TV This Week:

Fri Sep 27: Men’s Soccer @ Penn St, 6p, BTN

Sun Sep 29: Volleyball v. OSU, 2p, BTN

Most other home and conference matches are on BTN+.

Women’s Soccer (7-2, 2-0 B1G)

Last Week: 1-0 W @ #23 Penn St., 2-1 W @ OSU

Upcoming: Fri Sep 27, 7p v. Purdue, Sun Sep 29, 1p v. Indiana

LOOK AT THIS

Michigan in the “Also receiving votes” section of the rankings.

MICHIGAN IS GETTING VOTES! It’s hard to figure out when the last time they received votes is, but the Wolverines are on track to appear in a poll for the first time since 2017. After the upset in Pullman featured last week, Michigan has continued it’s hot streak. Michigan went on the road to #23 Penn State and earned a 1-0 win. The shape of the match was not unsimilar to the Wazzu one: score early and hold. Meredith Haakenson scored her team-high fifth of the season just before 10 minutes had gone, and that was the final margin. The team then headed to Columbus to take on Ohio State, and went home with a second win and a view from the top of the Big Ten table. OSU opened the scoring, before Nicki Hernandez converted a penalty kick less than a minute later. Sarah Stratigakis added the winning tally just after halftime, her fourth of the season.

Other than sitting at a theoretical #30 in the polls, Michigan sits at #48 in RPI. I’ll probably do deeper bracketology dives closer to the end of October, but if we assume that the top RPI team in each conference ends up getting their autobid, Michigan is 36th in RPI among the remaining at-large teams with 33 bids available. Root for Wazzu and Notre Dame (I know, I know).

After the aforementioned Purdue match, Michigan takes on Indiana Sunday. Indiana is 0-2 at the start of B1G play, following a 4-3 non-conference season. Both matches are on BTN+.

Men’s Soccer (3-2-2, 0-0-1 B1G)

Last Week: 1-1 T v. Rutgers

Upcoming: Fri Sep 27, 6p @ Penn St (BTN), Wed Oct 2, 7p @ OSU

The Michigan men’s soccer team only played one match during the conference-opening weekend, and they didn’t even play a full match. Michigan and Rutgers played to a rain-shortened 1-1 draw in Ann Arbor. Michigan opened the scoring just two minutes in, with Nebojsa Popovic putting the finishing touch on a beautiful team goal:

Rutgers equalized on a penalty kick, and after 72 minutes a lightning delay paused the action. There was an extremely brief return, but a second lightning delay forced the game to be called and the 1-1 score to stand. For that goal and the one in the Oakland match, Popovic earned himself Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.

The Michigan men now take the same road trip the women took last week, starting in State College before heading to Columbus. Penn State stands at 4-1-1 and opened conference play with an OT win at Ohio State. That match will be on TV, on BTN. OSU is 5-3, following up the loss to Penn St with a loss to West Virginia. That match will be on BTN+.

#9 Field Hockey (5-2)

Last Week: 4-0 W v. Kent St

Upcoming: Fri Sep 27, 3p @ Indiana, Sun Sep 29, 1p (ET) @ #7 Northwestern

Last week was a short week for Wolverines field hockey, making quick work of Kent St. in a 4-0 home win. The first two goals were scored by Kayla Reed, both on feeds from Halle O’Neill. Reed is now tied for the team lead in goals. The Wolverines remained at 9th. Now that RPI is out quick bracketology puts Michigan at 9th of the ten at-large spots available in the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan now turns its gaze to the Big Ten season, where they will need a fast start. Indiana went 3-3 in non-con but is returning home after a 4-2 win in East Lansing over the #24 Spartans. They will look to pick off their second Michigan team, this time in friendlier confines. Michigan then continues its challenge, heading to Evanston to take on #7 Northwestern. Northwestern is 8-2 with both losses coming against ranked opponents. One of those losses, UConn, is a team Michigan has since beat. Northwestern opened Big Ten play with a win at OSU. Both matches are on BTN+.

Volleyball 8-3

Last Week: 3-1 W v. Notre Dame, 3-0 W @ Rutgers

Upcoming: Sun Sep 29, 2p v. OSU (BTN), Crisler Center

After a heartbreaking close loss in South Bend last Wednesday, Michigan looked fresh and determined to win the home leg. I was able to make it out to Crisler for this one, and Michigan controlled early and never looked back. Michigan opened the first set on a 7-2 run, and while Notre Dame was able to slowly chip away at the lead, Michigan largely controlled the set. Sitting on a 23-19 deficit late, the Irish went on a four point run to tie it late, before two quick points ended the set and gave Michigan a 1-0 lead. Michigan dominated the second set, before a back and forth third set put the match in striking distance for Notre Dame. For much of the fourth set things looked even, before a six point run extended a 16-14 Michigan lead to 22-14. Michigan won three of the next five and 3-1 was the final. Opening Big Ten play v Rutgers, Michigan swept the Scarlet Knights, with two 25-14 sets bookending a squeaker in set 2.

Back at Crisler this Sunday Michigan hosts a 8-5 OSU squad. OSU opened up conference play by matching Michigan’s trip to a Big Ten newbie, beating Maryland 3-1. The Buckeyes had a mixed non-conference season, and will look at their trip up north as a chance to get on track. This one is on TV, on BTN.

#7 Women’s Cross Country

Last Week: 4th of 21 at John McNichols Invite (Terre Haute, IN)

Upcoming: Sat Sep 28, 9:45a, Big Ten Preview @ OSU

Michigan came in fourth at Indiana State’s John McNicols invite, the best performance out of the Big Ten teams in attendance. The standout individual performance once again comes from Ericka VanderLende, who picked up the second Big Ten Athlete of the Week Award of her freshman season. VanderLende came in fourth overall. Four Michigan runners ran in the individual top 25.

The Wolverines now head to Columbus for the Big Ten Preview, where they will be joined by half the conference, including #11 MSU, #16 Penn St, and #21 OSU.

#16 Men’s Cross Country

Last Week: 1st of 10 at adidas XC Challenge (Cary, NC)

Upcoming: Sat Sep 28, 9:00a, Big Ten Preview @ OSU

Michigan men’s XC opened their competitive season with a win, absolutely dominating the adidas XC Challenge at NC State. Michigan athletes took all three podium spots, and eight of the top ten. Sophomore Christian Hubaker won the event, taking home Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors for a clean Wolverine sweep. Michigan had all of its scoring runners cross the finish line before 2nd place NC State even had one scoring runner cross, and only NC A&T had another runner in the top 8.

The men will join the women in Columbus, where they will be the only ranked Big Ten team in attendance.

Men’s Golf

Last Week: 9th of 15 at Inverness Collegiate (Toledo, OH)

Men’s golf improved upon their opening performance by coming in 9th at Inverness. For the second consecutive tournament Brent Ito led the charge, shooting a 216 to land one stroke outside the Top 10. Junior Henry Spring shot the team-low round of the tournament, with a final round 69 getting moving him to 27th.

Men’s golf is off this week.

#21 Women’s Golf

Upcoming: M-T Sep 30-Oct 1, 8:30a (ET), Windy City Collegiate Championship (Golf, IL)

The Michigan women’s golf team’s positive performance in their first tournament has earned them a spot in the Top 25, a tie for 21st with Northwestern. The Wolverines will fight to defend their rank at the Windy City Collegiate Championship in the appropriately-named Golf, IL, a real place. Northwestern hosts the tournament, which will feature a tough field. Including the Wolverines 10 out of the 15 teams are ranked, including #3 Vanderbilt, #4 USC, and #6 Florida. This will be a real chance for the Wolverines to test their mettle, and even a performance in the bottom half of the tournament could still be positive depending on how the rankings shake out.

Swim/Dive

Last Week Men: 253-45 W v. Miami (OH), 225-72 W v. Navy

Last Week Women: 229-71 W v. Miami (OH), 190-110 W v. Navy

Swimming and diving pulled off a clean sweep, with both them men’s and women’s teams beating Miami (OH) and Navy. The meets happened simultaneously, with all three schools in the pool, but each Michigan team recorded two separate victories. (Navy swept Miami in their duals.) Michigan won the vast majority of the individual events, with Tommy Cope’s 54.09 in the 100-yard breaststroke putting him on the way to qualify for the NCAA Championships in that event. On the women’s side Maggie MacNeil was one of three Wolverines to win multiple events.

Swimming and diving is off this week.

Men’s Tennis

Last Week: Ivy Plus (Princeton, NJ), Battle of the Bay Invite (San Francisco, CA)

Men’s tennis split its time between two tournaments last weekend. Sophomore Patrick Maloney and Freshman Ondrej Styler went to the Battle of the Bay Invite. Maloney went 2-2 at the tournament, including a 6-3, 6-3 sweep over an athlete from San Francisco. Styler went 4-1, running all the way to the finals of the tournament before being beaten by an athlete from USC. The pair lost their only doubles match.

Five Wolverines went to Princeton for the Ivy Plus tournament. The tournament was highlighted by the doubles pairing of Harrison Brown and Kristofer Siimar, who went 3-0 at the tournament. Brown and Siimar also each went 2-1 as individuals.

Men’s tennis is off this week.

Women’s Tennis

Last Week: Wolverine Invitational, Ann Arbor, MI

Women’s tennis opened its season at home, in an individual tournament with several Big Ten and otherwise notable schools. Multiple Wolverines finished with perfect singles records after Michigan recorded a 4-0 sweep of Notre Dame on the final day. Two freshman made positive debuts, with Nicole Hammond and Andrea Cerdan both going 3-0.

Women’s tennis is off this week.

Softball

Last Week: 3 exhibition L’s, all v. Kentucky

Upcoming: Wed Oct 2, 5p @ MSU (ex)

Softball opened its season with three exhibition losses in Ann Arbor. They will head to East Lansing to continue their fall season.

Women’s Lacrosse

Upcoming: Sat Sep 29, 10:30a v. Duquense, 1:10p v. CMU (ex)

After a spectacular 2019 season that saw them host an NCAA Tournament game, women’s lacrosse will begin four weeks of exhibition play at home. Attendance is free.