Field hockey three-peats as MAC champs

Junior Alison Harmatz fights for the ball in the MAC championship game against Miami University (OH) on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. The Flashes would go on to win, 4-0, and claim the championship title.

Brandon Busby

Kent State took down Miami (OH) University in a commanding 4-0 victory to take home the 2016 Mid-American Conference title.

The Flashes have remained dominant in the MAC throughout the entire 2016 season; they lost zero games to conference teams and are currently 14-6, with more games yet to be played, compared to last season’s final record of 11-9.

Saturday’s win marks the third MAC title in a row.

From the beginning of the match, it was obvious that both teams were hungry for a title. Both played rigorous defense and limited each other to under 10 shots in the first period.

Head coach Kathleen Wiler made some adjustments during the half, and the Flashes came out in the second half looking like a completely different team. Kent State wasted no time in getting to work and producing their first goal of the game.

Junior Ines Delpech found the back of the net on a corner just over five minutes into the second half to begin the scoring for the day, assisted by juniors Silvia Figa Malgosa and Jessica Nesbitt.

Kent State dominated corners in Saturday’s game, producing seven to Miami’s one.

Senior Krysti Lober took advantage of one of these corners halfway through the second period and knocked it in with an assist from Malgosa and Nesbitt.

Freshman Laila Richter and junior Shannon Talbot would both sneak in unassisted goals before the end of the match, with Talbot’s last-second goal putting the game away.

Senior Madison Thompson — who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player— scored a crucial goal in Friday’s match against Ball State and has scored four goals this season.

“I didn’t even get a goal today,” Thompson said. “My team put the ball in the back of the net, and playing as a team is how you win games.”

Thompson is one of four seniors that will be graduating after their final season at Kent State and seemed overjoyed they will have the opportunity to play at least one more game before it’s all said and done.

Kent State was able to play on their home field after garnering the top seed in the tournament. The Flashes finished the regular season 6-0 in conference play.

The crowd at Saturday’s game was significantly larger than it had been in previous games and was full of other Kent State athletes that came out to join the players’ parents — who had been the consistent crowd for home games this season.

“Our parents are (the) backbone of our fan club and (travel) to every game,” Thompson said. “For them to have help cheering us on is awesome.”

Kent State will now receive an automatic bid to get into the 2016 NFHCAA tournament and will be one of 32 teams in the nation with a shot at the national title. Last year, the Flashes dropped their first match of this tournament against the University of Massachusetts, who were ranked 20th in the nation at the time.

“We’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing,” Delpech said, when asked what is being done to prepare for the championship. “We’re not going to change anything because we’re good enough (right now).”

For coach Wiler, this is not only her third consecutive MAC championship, but her fifth since becoming a coach at Kent State in 2006, and after Sunday she will know who her team will play in the NFHCAA tournament.

“It’s sort of like raising a child when you get a team on the first day of post-season,“ said Wiler, “We’re just so proud to watch how hard they work for this university and the name on the front of their jersey.”

Wiler mimicked breathing a sigh of relief when asked how exciting winning the MAC was.

“You just wanna keep playing,” Wiler said. “You never want it to end.”

Brandon Busby is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].