The regular season is winding down for Kent State field hockey (11-6, 6-0 Mid-American Conference), but that isn’t stopping the from finishing strong. The Flashes won back-to-back games – one of which was for the regular season MAC title – and showed no signs of letting up going into the end of this season and post-season play.
Kent State’s matchup against Ohio University (6-9, 3-2 MAC) on Friday proved to be no easy task for the Flashes, as they would need two overtimes to win the game.
Kent State junior Ines Delpech was the first to score, scoring in under four minutes into the game, assisted by senior Madison Thompson and junior Silvia Figa Malgosa.
Ohio would retaliate with a goal from Amelia Milton late in the first half. This goal was the last one of the game as neither team would score in the second half, sending the match into overtime.
In overtime, Kent State’s defense held off the Bobcats well enough to prevent them from scoring. Kent State got six corner opportunities in a row but was unable to capitalize on any of them.
In double-overtime Kent State wasted no time on the attack, obtaining a corner early on, which they were unable to score on after two blocked shots. Kent State got another corner almost immediately after the first one and was successful when Thompson found the back of the net and sealed the win for the Flashes.
The Kent State defense that held off Ohio University in the extra-time also held OU to five shots the entire game compared to the Flashes’ 21. Kent State also had substantially more corners than OU, outnumbering them 16 corners to OU’s three.
After Friday’s win, the 2016 field hockey team became the first since the 2000 to go undefeated against teams in the MAC. This win against the Bobcats is also the fifth regular season title in a row for Kent State.
“It’s great to win a regular season championship,” head coach Kathleen Wiler said in a press release. “The team has been working very hard and achieving goals along the way. But ultimately, we need to finish strong these next two non-conference games and be ready to play humble and confidently heading into the tournament.”
It was a high of 45 degrees at Murphy-Mellis Field in Kent, but the Flashes had no trouble knocking off Lock Haven University (9-7, 4-3 Atlantic 10) with a 2-1 victory over the Bald Eagles Saturday.
The game would remain scoreless through nearly the entire first period, as both team’s defenses buckled down and kept the game tied at 0 until Malgosa scored after an assist from freshman Kortney Keller on a corner in the final minute of the first half, to put Kent State up by one.
Redshirt senior Alexis Madeira added another point to the board for Kent State when she scored on a corner attempt assisted by freshman Laila Richter, halfway through the second half.
Lock Haven attempted to rally late in the second period, and junior April Stafford produced her team’s first goal in the last 10 minutes of Saturday’s game. This late-game goal, however, would be Lock Haven’s last as Kent State got the ball back and played conservatively until the time ran out.
Wiler, who has coached Kent State to eight regular season Mid-American Conference titles in her 11 years at Kent State, said she was proud of her team’s ability to turn around and play a tough opponent, right after a tiring double-overtime bout with Ohio University.
“Coming off of a double-overtime (game) yesterday and having to travel back, the team put together a good performance,” Wiler said. “The mood’s good because they won a regular season championship outright, and they’re super proud of themselves. “
Both the offensive and defense achievements of members of the team have not gone unnoticed. Alison Harmatz and Delpech both received MAC honors last weekend. Harmatz won MAC Offensive player of the week, and Delpech won MAC Defensive player of the week. This is Harmatz’s fourth MAC honor this season; third in a row.
The Flashes still have one more match to go before post-season play starts, as they take on Saint Francis University for Senior Night Oct. 30.
Kent State’s win over Ohio University Friday secured the No.1 seed in the MAC tournament. Kent State will host the first round of post-season play at Murphy-Mellis Field Nov. 4.
The remaining teams in the MAC have not yet clinched their playoff seeds and seeding will be determined following the final weekend of competition.
Brandon Busby is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]