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Posted on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Clare Stachel takes on leadership role for Michigan women's soccer team and more notes

By Matt Durr

The Michigan women's soccer team is counting on experience to help it return to the NCAA tournament. And redshirt junior Clare Stachel figures she gained even more experience in the summer months.

Stachel spent part of her summer at the U.S. U-23 National Camp, playing against some the best players in the country.

“It makes you play a lot quicker and more accurately,” Stachel said. “The players are a lot better at reading the play.”

Stachel, who started all 19 games as a defender last season and had three goals and four assists, enjoyed the challenge and thinks she is better off because of it.

As a team leader, Stachel tries to help her teammates by giving them tips and communicating on the field. That's something she saw the players at the U-23 camp doing frequently. She also noticed how the others approached practice and brought that mentality back to Ann Arbor.

“They just bring a whole new level to the game. You realize a lot of things that you can improve,” she said. “At national programs, everyone practices just as intense as they play games."

Stachel sees last season's 10-5-4 record and first-round NCAA tournament loss to Oklahoma State as a partial success. This year, she says, the Wolverines won't settle for just another NCAA berth and they want to improve their record in the Big Ten, too. After finishing fifth in the conference last year at 5-3-2, they have some work ahead of them.

Those team goals are all Stachel is focused on this season. Making the move from defense to forward, she would like to set career highs in goals and assists, but is more concerned about the team.

“As a whole, I know it sounds cheesy, but my goals are the team goals,” Stachel said. “We’re either going to get better or get worse, and I prefer that we get better.”

The Wolverines open the season with two home games this weekend. They host Akron at 7 p.m. Friday and Oakland at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Field hockey team to rely on youth

The Michigan field hockey team will play an exhibition at Michigan State at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Coming off last year's trip to the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines are looking to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champions. Sophomore Rachael Mack returns to lead the offense after an impressive freshman year where she led the team in scoring.

Field hockey freshman goalie Adrianna Crovo was named to the U.S. U-19 Junior National Team in July. She participated in a camp with 102 players and played well enough to be selected to the 31 player squad that will train at Olympic training facility in Chula Vista, Calif. Corvo will train at the facility in the beginning of 2012.

The regular season begins on Aug. 27, when the Wolverines host North Carolina for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

EMU volleyball team 4th in preseason MAC poll

The Eastern Michigan volleyball team, which returns 10 letter winners, was picked to finish fourth in the Mid-American Conference West Division by conference coaches. The Eagles, who finished last season 24-11 overall, open action Friday, Aug. 26 with a match at Notre Dame.

Michgian soccer looks to build on last year's run

The Michigan men's soccer team starts the season with high expectations after reaching the final four in last year's NCAA tournament and finishing as the fourth-ranked team in the country. The Wolverines start the season ranked ninth in the preseason poll, making them highest ranked team in the Big Ten. The Wolverines play Louisville on Saturday in an exhibition in Fort Wayne Ind.

Senior Adam Shaw, and juniors Tim Bergsma and Brian Klemczak will serve as captains this season. Shaw played in every game for the Wolverines last year and had a career high four assists. Bergsma is scheduled to open the season as the primary goalie for Michigan after playing in four games last season.