Flashes field hockey heads into rivalry weekend with confidence

Nick Shook

Following a weekend series in which Kent State field hockey added a win to its record, the Flashes are heading into their next home stand with a new level of confidence.

Kent State defeated Missouri State, 5-3, in their Mid-American Conference opener to improve their overall record to 3-6. Sophomore Alyssa McFerren excelled in the Flashes’ win, scoring a goal and recording two assists.

“It’s definitely a confidence boost to finally score,” McFerren said.

While McFerren’s performance was vital to the team’s success, Kent State relied on senior Debbie Bell for most of the team’s goals. Bell scored three goals in the Flashes’ two games and earned MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The award came as a result of solid teamwork, Bell said.

“It’s always nice to be recognized as a team for our hard work,” Bell said. “Whenever I get these awards, it’s not really me who is getting them, it’s the team.”

Although the Flashes suffered a difficult loss at the hands of Michigan State Sunday, the team was encouraged by the effort it displayed. The two teams remained tied at the end of regulation, which forced the game into overtime. The Spartans took the victory in the 82nd minute of action, but Kent State walked off the pitch with plenty of positives to reflect upon.

Kent State has experienced issues with starting games slowly, but the team focused on improving during the week of practice that led up to their weekend on the road. The preparation paid off, as the Flashes scored three of their goals in the first 15 minutes of action.

“I think our attack really went out there this week and in the first 10 minutes we were in there scoring goals,” Bell said.

Defense was another aspect of the game that Kent State focused on. The Flashes held Michigan State to two shots on goal.

“We did a lot of work on having pride in our defensive circle,” Bell said. “The easiest way to stop their shots and penalty corners is to not let them in your circle.”

Kent State will look to improve upon their performance this weekend against MAC rivals Miami and Ball State. The RedHawks have traditionally given the Flashes their toughest challenge on the pitch. Kent State and Miami each recorded a win in the two teams’ 2010 regular season series, but the Flashes took home the MAC Championship with a late game-winning goal versus the RedHawks in the 2010 MAC Tournament final. Kent State will expect more of the same from Miami in their first meeting in 2011.

“It’s going to be a good fight,” Bell said.

In order for Kent State to continue having success in the MAC, they must score goals early in the game. The team has worked on starting games with strong offensive play.

“Sometimes, we’ve been scored on right away and that can’t happen anymore,” McFerren said. “Coming out on fire will definitely help us.”

Kent State will continue its conference schedule at home Saturday versus Miami. The game begins at 1 p.m.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected] and @Shookie_Cookie.