Column: Field hockey has upset potential this weekend against ranked opponents
The Central Michigan field hockey team remains in the non-conference schedule: A time when small schools hone skills and prep players for the only championship attainable – the conference championship.
The Chippewas, furthermore, can show that they are already prepared and are a safe bet in the Mid-American Conference title hunt, if they win two or even three games this weekend.
They have a grueling stretch that begins on Friday and ends on Labor Day in No. 11 Stanford, No. 22 Maine and a tricky opponent in Delaware.
The ranking is evidence enough to prove the Cardinals are a great team, but here is more anyway. Stanford has a First Team All-American in Becky Dru, destroyed their first opponent, La Salle, 10-0 and captured four conference championships over the last five seasons.
Stanford’s resume is why a 2-1 record this weekend should still be satisfying.
Beating the Black Bears and Blue Hens will be difficult, but possible.
Maine had one of their best seasons in school history last year, reaching No. 10 – the highest ranking all-time for the Black Bears – at one point in the season. They have a win against Providence and two losses to No. 17 Boston College and Michigan State this year.
Delaware has not won a game this season, which makes them susceptible, but their two losses came in overtime against ranked opponents.
The Chippewas’ last win against a ranked opponent was in 2007 against Michigan State, who was ranked No. 5. Since then, they have had many close calls, including their 1-0 loss to then No. 12 Iowa in 2011. CMU has also had its punishing defeats, like the 9-0 loss in 2010 to then No. 13 Louisville.
But, at least, they will have things going for them this weekend that they did not have last weekend.
They will not play on field turf, which slowed the quicker CMU players against Robert Morris. They will also have Skylar VanNatta back and defending the penalty corner, which they struggled protecting without her against Villanova.
CMU has to hope Erin Dye and Bailey McKeon continue to play well, and it would not hurt if Cayleigh Immelman, leading scorer of last year’s team, pitched in offensively.
Even if the Chippewas do not reach the benchmark set, the results against the three teams that might be better than any team in the MAC will be a great barometer of how much success is in store for CMU in 2012.
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