Michigan Defeats Iowa 3-2 to Capture First Big Ten Tournament Title Since 2000
Nov. 7, 2004
EVANSTON, IL - Blue skies, a crisp breeze and two fiercely competitive teams set the atmosphere for Sunday's (Nov. 7) championship game of the 2004 Big Ten Conference Field Hockey Tournament between the top seed Michigan, and the second seed Iowa. The match, like the rest of the tournaments games was close, but the Wolverines were able to lead when it counted, at the end and claim the 2004 tournament title for Michigan.
In the schools only match-up of the regular season, Iowa was able to defeat Michigan 4-3 in overtime, scoring four unanswered goals, but today it was Michigan who scored three times in a row to go up 3-1. Iowa would bounce back with a goal, but in the end fell to the Wolverines 3-2. Both teams were tri-champions along with Michigan State for the Big Ten during the regular season but only U-M can now claim the tournament title.
The eighth ranked team in the country; Michigan improves their record to 16 wins against five losses on the year and receives the Big Ten Conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which starts on Saturday (Nov. 13). Iowa - which is ranked 14th in the nation - now stands at 13-7 for the 2004 season and will look to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
The Wolverines were making their fifth appearance in the tournament title game, winning two of the five. Their last appearance was in 2002 when the lost 3-0 to Michigan State with their last title coming in 2000 when the defeated Penn State 3-2. Iowa's last Tournament title was in 1994 - the first year of the Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament - although; they have made four appearances in the tournament title game since. The Hawkeyes last played a Sunday tournament game in 2001, when the lost 2-1 to Ohio State in the finale.
The Maize and Blue threatened early on when 7:30 into the match, senior forward Jessica Blake just missed scoring the first goal of the contest. The 2004 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a member of the all-conference first team, Blake sent a shot from the right side to the far side of the goal. Iowa goalkeeper and Big Ten All-Conference first team selection Barb Weinberg was able to get a piece of the shot to deflect it just wide of the net.
It was Iowa who would wind up scoring first just a few minutes later. With 11:48 off the clock, junior midfielder Debbie Birrell received a pass across the circle just in front of the net from freshman midfielder Caroline Blaum. Birrell, a member of the Big Ten All-Conference second team, flipped it past the U-M goalie - sophomore Beth Riley - to give the Hawkeyes the 1-0 early lead.
Iowa held the top offensive team in the conference - statistically - in check for much of the opening half. With 26:58 off the clock the Wolverines were able to convert a penalty corner into the tying goal. After scoring twice in Michigan's 5-0 semifinal win over Ohio State, sophomore forward Katie Morris took a rebound off the initial shot from the push-in and deposited it into the net for the goal, tying the game 1-1.
The Wolverines would claim the lead going into halftime with a late first half goal. A flurry of shots with two minutes remaining tested the Iowa defense and goalie Barb Weinberg. The Hawkeyes held out as long as they could before Michigan finally put one into the back of the net with 33:41 off the clock in the first half. Sophomore forward and all-conference second team honoree Mary Fox took a rebound off the post and flicked it in for the go ahead goal.
Michigan added an insurance goal in the second half off the stick of Jessica Blake at 16:46 in. Sophomore defender Kara Lentz made the push-in off a penalty corner to junior defender and all-conference first team member Lori Hillman. Hillman then set up Blake for the one-timer to put U-M up 3-1.
The Wolverine's lead wouldn't stay comfortable for long though. With 21:41 off the clock, Iowa's Tammy Leister notched the Hawkeyes second goal of the game. The senior defender was fed the ball off a penalty corner to make the score 3-2. Senior forward Sarah Dawson and senior defender Lauren Stiver were each credited with assists on the Hawkeyes eighth goal of the tournament. Dawson and Stiver are members of the 2004 all-conference first and second teams respectively.
But time simply ran out on the Hawkeyes comeback as Michigan claimed the Big Ten Tournament title with a 3-2 win. The Wolverine's held advantages in the match in both shots at 13-9 and penalty corners at 15-8.
At the conclusion of the match, the 2004 Big Ten All-Tournament team was selected with the following players being honored; Heather Schnepf (Iowa), Kelly Slattery (Iowa), Jessica Miller (MSU), Michelle Huyunh-Ba (MSU), Lauren Kruse (OSU), Linday Williams (OSU), Carey Maser (Penn State), Katie Kanara (Indiana), Morgan Kuhn (Northwestern), Adrienne Hortillosa (Michigan), Lori Hillman (Michigan). Hillman was also selected as the MVP of this year's post-season tournament.