Big weekend keeps Kent State field hockey ahead in the MAC

Richie Mulhall

Team rallies late to defeat Missouri State

The Kent State Golden Flashes remain tied for first place in the Mid-American Conference and clinched a berth in the Mid-American Conference tournament after a dramatic come-back victory in overtime against the Missouri State Bears this past Friday.

The Golden Flashes (7-12; 3-1 MAC) defeated Missouri State 4-11; 2-3 MAC) by a final score of 4-3. It was a key game for the Flashes because the victory marks the team’s first road victory of the season, as well as its third conference win.

Kent State capped its amazing comeback victory with the help of a clutch goal scored by sophomore Julia Hofmann. The Flashes were down 3-2 with one minute left to play in regulation when Hofmann scored a game-tying goal off a corner.

“I told myself I have to score to go into overtime to try to win the game,” said Hofmann.

In the extra session with the game tied at two, junior Rebecca Lee the ball from the right side of the net to sophomore Hannah Faulkner. Faulkner ran past the defenders to receive the pass from Lee and gave the Flashes its fourth goal of the game. Faulkner’s goal gave Kent the 4-3 victory in the 84th minute of play, thus sealing the position on top of the MAC.

“It was exciting,” said Faulkner about hitting the game-winning goal. “I knew a goal would guarantee us a spot in the MAC tournament.”

The Golden Flashes came out of the gate strongly by scoring two goals in only the first seven minutes of play. Lee scored the first goal of the game, and her eighth goal of the season, after receiving a feed from junior Melanie Kahn. Hofmann scored the second goal after a shot taken from the middle of the circle in the seventh minute of play.

Hofmann’s MAC-leading 13th goal of the season put the Bears under pressure to step up its defense in the remaining minutes of the half.

The Flashes’ offense cooled off and the defense began to struggle. After shutting out the Bears for another 15 minutes, Missouri State was finally able to score in the 22nd minute of the game. Kent State took a 2-1 lead into halftime.

In the second half, the two teams battled back and forth with neither team being able to grasp the edge. In the 40th minute, the Bears tied the game at two with a second goal, and then the team took a 3-2 lead off of a deflection in the 60th minute of play. With only ten minutes left to play, the pressure was on the Flashes to try to tie the game to send it into overtime.

Despite the intensity of the situation and the pressure to maintain control of the MAC, Hofmann’s end-of-regulation goal and Faulkner’s overtime goal gave Kent State the momentum they needed to lift themselves over the Bears to victory.

Head coach Kathleen Wiler said she was very proud of her team’s performance.

“I saw a team that showed so much heart and character,” said Wiler. “They’re a gritty group of girls. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done.”

Flashes drop Saturday’s game to No. 12 Iowa

The Flashes hoped to ride this wave of success into the next game on Saturday against the No. 12 Iowa (11-4; 3-1 Big Ten).

On Saturday, though, Kent State was unable to pull off an upset against Iowa, falling to the Hawkeyes 3-1. This game was Kent’s seventh non-conference game against a ranked opponent this season.

Both teams were locked in a scoring stalemate to begin the game, with neither team scoring in the first 10 minutes of the game.

However, Kent State struck first with a Faulkner goal in the 11th minute of play. Continuing to flourish after her successful game against the Missouri State, Faulkner scored her sixth goal of the season off of a deflection from a penalty corner.

With a 1-0 lead, the Golden Flashes’ impressive defensive stand kept the Hawkeyes scoreless up until the 33rd minute of play. The Hawkeyes scored its first goal just before the half ended.

The Hawkeyes came out unyieldingly in the second half by shooting seven times in the first seven minutes. Kent’s defense remained steadfast in its efforts to stop Iowa, not allowing any of the seven shots taken to get in the goal.

Eventually, though, the Hawkeyes were able to take a 2-1 lead with a second goal past sophomore goalkeeper Jahna Jordan.

The Hawkeyes persistent offensive attack did not cease from this point on, forcing Kent State’s offense to a complete halt for the rest of the game. The Flashes were unable to record another shot and gave up a third goal to the Hawkeyes.

Although Kent State continued to play tough and Jordan recorded nine saves on the day, it wasn’t enough to overcome Iowa.

Unable to match to their first-half performance, the Golden Flashes fell to the Hawkeyes with a final score of 3-1. Wiler commended her team for their efforts, especially Jordan, who recorded nine saves in the game.

“Jordan played an awesome game and played well against such a respectable team,” said Wiler.

Kent State is slated to play at Central Michigan (7-9; 3-1 MAC) at 1 p.m.on Saturday. This conference game is the last regular-season game for the Golden Flashes. The result of the game will determine the seeding for the MAC tournament.

“We’re lucky we have a whole week to get ready,” said Wiler. “We’re going to hone in on (Central Michigan) and prepare as best we can.”

The players will be ready for this coming week as well, realizing that good coaching and teamwork will be essential for preparing for the last game of the season.

“Everything the coaches taught us is coming together and the team is coming together as one,” said Faulkner.

Richie Mulhall is the field hockey reporter for the Daily Kent Stater

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].