First-half deficit trumps second-half comeback

Alex Klukaszewski

Box Score

The Kent State field hockey team started its season Saturday at Murphy-Mellis Field against the James Madison Dukes, losing their home opener, 4-3.

On a beautiful, sunny day for field hockey, momentum began on Kent State’s side when junior Alexis Madeira scored an unassisted goal off of a rebound to put the Flashes ahead just over 17 minutes into the first half.

“The first goal was a great effort by Lexie on the line,” midfielder Madison Thompson said. “She turned and found the goalie on an awkward angle and scored from a really tough angle and that was a great goal for us to get.”

For the next seven minutes, defense stayed tight, offense created opportunities and Kent State (0-1) kept the ball out of its zone.

With just over 10 minutes to play in the first period, however, James Madison finally scored its first of four unanswered goals, three of which occurred in the first half, before the horn sounded for the 10-minute intermission.

The first goal was a slapper by Loes Stijntjes, assisted by Adrienne le Vatte and Dana Allaband. The next goal came about five minutes later when Shelby Grande scored an unassisted goal. Saskia Chelmowski scored a goal exactly a minute and a half later with two and a half minutes left in the first period and then scored again just minutes into the second half, both unassisted.

Shortly after Chelmowski’s second goal at the beginning of the second half, Kent State called a timeout with 27 minutes left on the clock. Thompson explained that her coaches’ message during the time out was to focus on basic fundamentals the team practiced during preseason.

“We really need to come out hard and always come out strong and we needed coach to relay that message and for it to sink in at that time period,” Thompson said.

For Kent State, going down without a fight wasn’t an option during the second half. The Flashes’ scoring leader for the past two seasons, senior Julia Hofmann, scored her first goal of the season off a corner assisted by freshman Silvia Figa Malgosa and Thompson, narrowing the deficit down to two points. Thompson later scored her first goal of the season in a clutch situation.

Flashes fans were on the edge of their seats until the final horn sounded to end the match.

Kent State head coach Kathleen Wiler was impressed with the way her team fought back into the game until the end.

“I think it was good to start chipping away at the deficit,” Wiler said. “We were down, 3-1, at the half and to make it 4-3, I think we showed some character. We were getting corners and we were getting goals and we started using our midfield a little bit more in the second half, which makes all the difference.

Wiler said she will be making some lineup adjustments and positioning her team according to its strengths for future games.

Kent State’s next home game is this Tuesday against Syracuse at 1:00 p.m.

Contact Alex Klukaszewski at [email protected].