Field hockey pressing conference dominance to next level


Sophomore forward Madison Thompson races toward the ball during the MAC championship game against Ohio University on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Kent State won the championship, 2-0.

Jimmy Miller

Field hockey coach Kathleen Wiler knows the Mid-American Conference well.

Wiler, entering her 10th season in charge of the Flashes’ program, boasts a 53-23 conference record in her tenure with the team. It also seems the team hasn’t missed a beat in conference dominance, owning six of the last seven regular-season Mid-American Conference titles. Wiler has also won the conference outright twice by taking the conference tournament, the first of which came in 2008. Wiler also came within a double-overtime goal of posting an undefeated conference record in 2013, but the Flashes dropped their season-ending game.

Wiler also coached in the conference as an assistant for eight seasons, serving some time with the Flashes and then more with Miami.

But even with the previous success, Wiler’s past seasons are unparalleled to what the Flashes did last year: The Flashes went to the NCAA Tournament and won their first matchup, a 2-1 decision over the University of Delaware. The win marked the first tournament win in school history, and the Flashes hope to build on that promise in 2015.

The team does have some ground to make up regarding its offense, as graduates Hannah Faulkner and Julia Hofmann, who both combined for 30 goals throughout 22 games. However, the team does return all but two of the eight remaining players who scored last season. If the Flashes approach the offense with the next scorer up mentality, junior midfielder/forward Madison Thompson will pace the offense, as she finished third on the team in 2014 in goals with eight.

But a necessary stalwart of the team will continue to be the defense, which held opponents to 2.45 goals per game last season and a .181 shot percentage. The team returns goalkeeper Andrea Rinehart, who finished with five season shutouts and 119 saves. Rinehart also logged the most minutes played on the team last year with 1,554.

The Flashes open their season Saturday at home versus Virginia Commonwealth University, and similar to last season’s slate of non-conference games, the schedule includes opponents from the Big Ten Conference. The Flashes seek redemption versus Michigan and Michigan State, both teams that were ranked in the top 25 last season, and both teams the Flashes dropped one-goal games to.

The Flashes will head to Central Michigan on Oct. 4 for the conference opener. In all, the Flashes will host just five home games this season, and only two of which are conference games. The team closes out the regular season at Ball State on Nov. 1.

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].