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Non-Rev Notebook: Field hockey readies for big games, men’s soccer gaining momentum

The Wolverines are fully in the swing of the fall sports season.

2020 NCAA Division I Women’s Field Hockey Championship Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

With all of Michigan’s fall sports teams in full swing by now, there’s a lot you might have missed. No worries. Maize n Brew has you covered on the Wolverines’ non-revenue sports scene.

Michigan soccer, field hockey or volleyball games are a great option for those who live in Ann Arbor and want to support their teams but don’t want to shell out as much time or money as they would to attend a football or basketball game. For those not in Ann Arbor, though only a select few non-revenue games are televised, there’s still a way to watch.

The Big Ten Network offers BTN+, an online subscription-based service that streams non-televised Big Ten athletic events. A conference-wide pass costs $120 per year ($15 per month), but if you’re only interested in Michigan events, you can get a school-specific pass for $80 annually or $10 monthly.

I’ll go around the horn, getting you up-to-date on where each Wolverine team sits right now, what’s next for them and when you can see them in action next.

Field hockey (9-0, 2-0 Big Ten)

Far and away the top contender to bring a national title to Ann Arbor plays at Ocker Field. While the Wolverines aren’t No. 1 in the nation anymore — Iowa jumped them in the NFHCA top 25 poll last week — they’ve done nothing but win this season. They opened their Big Ten slate back on Sept. 24 with a blowout win over No. 25 Michigan State, beat No. 23 Kent State 2-1 two days later, and went on the road this past Sunday to beat No. 18 Ohio State 1-0, preventing the Buckeyes from recording a single shot on goal.

Much of its goal-scoring output came against lowly Ball State and Central Michigan, but Michigan is averaging 4.56 goals per game, the most in the country, while allowing just 0.78. On average, it’s outshooting opponents 21.3-5.4 and has taken 75 penalty corners to its opponents’ 27.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Wolverines this season is the way players have stepped up to shoulder the scoring load. Senior forward Tina D’Anjolell has already scored a career-high five goals. Sophomore midfielder Lora Clarke, a starter last season, has doubled her goals and assists totals from last season in half as many games. Junior midfielder Nina Apoola registered just one assist during her first two seasons in Ann Arbor and has six this season. Then, of course, there’s Sofia Southam.

Player to watch: Southam, a midfielder from Buenos Aires, has exploded onto the scene in her senior season. She’d scored just 11 goals combined in her first three seasons in Ann Arbor, but Southam has already found the net 14 (fourteen!) times this fall — and that’s with her missing the Wolverines’ first two games while she was competing at the Junior Pan-American Championship (Southam’s a dual citizen of the United States and Argentina).

Southam scored five goals in the first half alone against Central Michigan, but has proven her clutch bonafides in Michigan’s last two games. She scored both goals against Kent State, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, and scored the lone goal against the Buckeyes as well.

What’s next: The next two weeks are jam-packed for Michigan, and might just indicate if this team really does have what it takes to defend their conference title and equal their NCAA Tournament run from last spring. Friday at 6 p.m., the Wolverines host No. 4 Northwestern (BTN+), and on Sunday at noon, No. 3 Louisville (BTN+) comes to town. The latter game will be a rematch of last year’s national semifinal, which Michigan won in a penalty shootout. The Wolverines are then off for four days before the Oct. 15 showdown at Iowa (2 p.m., BTN). Like I said, jam-packed.

Men’s soccer (5-4-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten)

This season, it’s been hard to know what to make of the Wolverines, a clearly talented bunch that nonetheless tied with Detroit Mercy at home, needed overtime to beat Oakland and lost all three of its matches against ranked opponents (Duke, New Hampshire and Maryland). Still, all of those losses came by one goal, seemingly giving Michigan something it could build off of.

It looks like the Wolverines might be finding their stride as of late. They bounced back from a 3-1 home defeat to Notre Dame by beating Northwestern, 3-1, at home on Sept. 26. Senior midfielder Kevin Buca carried his team in that one with a hat trick. Then, last Friday, senior forward Derick Broche scored one of Michigan’s biggest goals in recent memory, heading one in in OT to seal the Wolverines’ 2-1 victory at Indiana. While the Hoosiers have been uncharacteristically shaky this year — they’ve already lost three games — defeating last year’s national runners-up in their own house is the sort of result that can inspire worlds of confidence.

Player to watch: Evan Rasmussen, a junior forward, has proven integral to the Wolverines’ recent success. Rasmussen appeared in just five matches in this spring’s season, but has started six of Michigan’s nine games this fall. He scored his first collegiate goal against Notre Dame, added an assist against Northwestern, and played his best game of the year against the Hoosiers. Rasmussen used all of his 6-foot-3 frame to equalize the contest in the 82nd minute, going into a full dive to get his head on a low pass by Umar Farouk Osman. In overtime, he elevated in the box and with his head, flicked on Declan Gaffney’s long throw-in to assist Broche on the game-winner.

What’s next: Michigan’s next three games are as follows: at home today against Michigan State (8 p.m.), on the road Sunday at Penn State (2 p.m.) and at Wisconsin on Oct. 15 (7 p.m.). All three games are on Big Ten Network. Taking at least five points (three for a win, one for a tie) in the Big Ten standings from those three games would probably constitute a successful stretch of play.

Women’s soccer (8-1-3, 2-0-2 Big Ten)

The Wolverines, currently ranked No. 16 nationally, are nearing the halfway point of their their Big Ten slate. Recently, they’ve developed a knack for close games. All of their last nine games have either ended in ties or were decided by only one goal, and five of their 12 games this season have gone to sudden-death overtime. Whenever you decide to catch Michigan in action, you’re likely going to get a tense, entertaining 90 minutes or more.

Michigan began conference play a couple weeks back with a 2-1 win over Illinois at home. The Fighting Illini scored just two minutes into the game, but Meredith Haakenson found the net in the 81st minute, followed by Sammi Woods’ OT winner. That game was followed by a gritty 0-0 tie at home against Wisconsin that saw a combined two shots on goal. Woods scored another game-deciding goal in a 2-1 win at Purdue (this one came in the 32nd minute), and this past Sunday Michigan battled Indiana to a scoreless draw (called off due to weather after the 91st minute) in Bloomington.

The Big Ten is packed with strong teams — just look at last year’s champion, Penn State, which sits at 1-4 in conference play. Wisconsin is 7-3-3, Purdue is 9-2-2, and Indiana is 8-2-3. The Wolverines should be fortified for a postseason run as a result — if they can survive the grind first.

Player to watch: Hillary Beall has been a brick wall lately. The goalie is one of five fifth-year seniors on the roster and has been just as much of an anchor as she’s been throughout her career. Beall’s let in just six goals on the year and sports a Big Ten-leading .857 save percentage. With a higher quality of opponents in conference play, Beall’s seen progressively more opportunities throughout the year and has risen to them, setting a season-high with six saves against the Hoosiers. She hasn’t allowed more than one goal in any game this season.

What’s next: Wednesday brings an enticing road matchup at No. 9 Rutgers (1 p.m., BTN+), the only team in the conference other than Michigan that’s unbeaten. It’s a game that had to be rescheduled from Sept. 23 due to poor weather on the East Coast. Sunday, the Wolverines will head to Nebraska (1 p.m. ET, BTN). Their next home game is October 14 against Michigan State (7 p.m., BTN+). The Spartans haven’t had a winning season since 2015 and went just 1-10-1 this spring, but sit at 8-1-3 overall and third in Big Ten play, making next Thursday a battle of established contender vs upstart.

Volleyball (9-4, 2-2 Big Ten)

The Wolverines were strong in non-conference play, going 7-2 and capping things off with three straight three-set wins in the Michigan Invitational at home. But the question for this young Michigan team has been how well they can compete in the Big Ten, an extremely top-heavy conference which, as of Monday, featured six teams in the top 13 of the AVCA top 25.

The Wolverines got their first chance to see back on Sept. 24 with their conference opener at No. 8 Minnesota. Things went pretty encouragingly for them: after falling down two sets to zero, they stormed back and ultimately fell in a valiant five-set effort. While No. 12 Nebraska had its way with Michigan in Lincoln last Friday, winning all three sets by at least 10 points, the Wolverines have taken care of business otherwise, taking down Michigan State in four sets and Iowa in three.

Player to watch: Junior opposite hitter/middle blocker May Pertofsky is maybe the most dangerous server in the Big Ten. Pertofsky’s currently averaging a conference-leading 0.5 aces per set, thanks to a powerful serve with great movement that often grazes the top of the net, giving it an added layer of unpredictability. The Californian’s contributions aren’t limited to her serves, however: she’s third on the Wolverines in hitting percentage, points, kills and blocks per set.

What’s next: Michigan gets a second chance against the Golden Gophers this Friday (9 p.m., BTN) at Crisler Center before going on the road against No. 7 Ohio State on Sunday (1 p.m., BTN+). October 15-16, they’re back at home for a two-game set against Maryland (6 p.m.) and No. 4 Wisconsin (4:30 p.m.). Cliff Keen Arena will host the Maryland game, with Crisler set to be the venue against the Badgers. The Wolverines should be able to beat Maryland and hope that a raucous home atmosphere, or rivalry mentality, gives them enough boost to score at least one upset.

Cross country

This past weekend, both Michigan cross country teams got their season going for real, each competing at their second scoring meet of the year and first large meet.

The women, who are ranked No. 8 nationally, took first out of 44 teams at the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday. Top 10 individual finishers Kayla Windemuller, Katelynne Hart, Ericka VanderLende and Anne Forsyth all broke 17 minutes in the 5,000-meter race, leading to a team score of just 39 points, compared to second-place Wisconsin with 75 (in cross country, runners gets one point per place they finish in, so the lower the team score, the better).

Meanwhile, the No. 25 men’s team was seeded sixth coming into the 23-team Notre Dame Invitational last Friday but came away with a second-place finish, finishing just 21 points behind Furman and beating higher-ranked teams Notre Dame, Butler, Alabama and Ole Miss. Michigan’s pack running was key to its success, as scorers Devin Meyrer, Zach Stewart, Joost Plaetinck, Oli Raimond and Nick Foster all finished within 14 seconds of each other.

Athlete to watch: Windemuller began the season as Michigan’s No. 3 runner at the Michigan Open, rose to No. 2 at the Penn State Invitational, and finished first out of all Wolverines, and second overall, with a time of 16:41.3 in Louisville. She finished 152nd at last spring’s NCAA Championships, but could be primed for much more judging from her performances this season.

What’s next: Both teams have a solid two weeks of training before their next meets. The men are scheduled to compete at the prestigious Nuttycombe Invitational in Wisconsin on Oct. 15, while that same day, the women will be in State College for the Penn State National Open. Fans can also catch the Wolverines on the course at the EMU Fall Classic on Oct. 22 (5 p.m.), which will take place at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter.

Golf

The season started off with a bang for the Michigan women. At the Wolverine Invitational Sept. 13-14, they set the 54-hole course record for the U-M Golf Course, shooting a 1-under-par 851 to win the title by 12 strokes over Virginia. Mikaela Schulz posted rounds of 68, 70 and 72 to tie for first place individually, while the Wolverines’ other four starters also finished in the top 20.

Meanwhile, the men’s team recently tied for fifth out of 12 teams at the Oct. 2-4 Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate in Sugar Grove, Ill., posting a score of 857. That followed September’s third-place finish at the Island Resort Intercollegiate in Bark River, Mich. and runner-up finish at Yale’s MacDonald Cup.

Athlete to watch: Will Anderson led Michigan in scoring average as a freshman last spring and has picked up where he left off this fall. Anderson’s posted three top 10 finishes in as many events, including taking home the individual title at the MacDonald Cup, where he shot a career-best first round of 66 and won by three strokes.

What’s next: The men have one more fall competition, the White Sands Bahamas Invitational at Paradise Island from Oct. 29-31. The women have two: the Ruth’s Chris Invitational, hosted by North Carolina, Oct. 15-17, and the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, N.C. Oct. 29-31.

Tennis

The fall portion of the college tennis season is composed of non-scoring meets. So far, the men have been to four, most recently the Bulldog Invitational hosted by Mississippi State Oct. 1-3. The women have competed at three events, and this past weekend hosted the Wolverine Invitational at the Varsity Tennis Center. Youth was the star for the Wolverines at their respective competitions: sophomore Nino Ehrenschneider went 3-0 in Starkville, while freshman Julia Fliegner won all four of her matches at the Wolverine Invitational.

One of the highlights of the fall season is the ITA All-American Championships, currently ongoing in Tulsa for men (streaming here) and in Charleston, S.C. for women this week. Michigan men competing include Andrew Fenty, Patrick Maloney and Gavin Young, while the women’s team is being represented by Kari Miller.

Swimming and diving

Both men’s and women’s teams will open their season with two meets this weekend. Some Wolverines will be at the SMU Classic this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s portion of the meet begins at 6:30 p.m. CT, Saturday gets under way at 11 a.m. Central, and both days can be streamed live on SMU’s website. Meanwhile in Ann Arbor, there’s a dual meet against Oakland Saturday at noon.