KSU women’s field hockey struggles opening weekend

Nick Shook

Check out TV2’s video for the field hockey season opener here.

The 2011 Flashes’ roster is top-heavy with experience. The team’s five captains are all seniors, with a combined 211 games worth of playing experience in three years.

Senior forward Debbie Bell is the all-time goal-scoring leader for Kent State with 76 goals, and senior Amy Wimsatt earned All-Mid American Conference Tournament honors in 2010.

Having two all-conference performers was not enough for Kent State in their opening weekend of play, losing 5-1 against New Hampshire on Sunday in Columbus, and dropping their home opener on Friday against Northwestern.

After one looks past the seniors, the experience level takes a sharp downturn. With only one junior (forward Andrea Camut, who has played in only one game in two years due to injury) on the roster, Kent State (0-2) has found itself reaching into it’s pool of younger players to address depth issues.

In their season-opener at home versus Northwestern, Kent State started four sophomores and two freshmen. Five other freshmen also saw action as substitutes.

“The younger kids are doing a great job,” head coach Kathleen Wiler said. “The main goal is, when you have a big freshman class, you have to get them to assimilate as quickly as possible. They arrive on campus and have two weeks of practice before their first game. They’re working hard and learning a lot. They’re putting in effort every day.”

Wiler found herself in a peculiar position this past offseason after losing both goalkeepers from last year.

Incoming freshman keeper Jahna Jordan was thrust into the starting role as soon as she arrived on campus. Although the Flashes’ defense has allowed the opposition multiple scoring opportunities early in the season (33 shots-on-goal in two games), Jordan is performing admirably, making 13 saves and allowing eight goals. Jordan allowed five goals on 18 shots on Sunday versus New Hampshire (2-0), a game in which the Golden Flashes lost, 5-1.

“Jahna’s doing an excellent job,” Wiler said. “The stats don’t lie. They [New Hampshire] had more corners than we did. A corner is like a foul shot, and Jahna is doing a great job with them. She got a lot of action today and I think she’s gotten even better than she was on Friday.”

Defense has been an issue for the Flashes, as they have been outscored 8-1 in two games thus far.

However, Wiler isn’t discouraged by the lack of scoring in the team’s first weekend of play.

“We really focused on cleaning up some defense in our mid-field today and we really did a great job,” Wiler said. “I was so proud of the way they took responsibility and faced the challenge. I think we’ll continue to get better with each week.”

The Flashes have had multiple opportunities to score on offense, but have failed to convert on all but one attempt. Bell scored the team’s first goal of the season on a penalty corner in the second half of Sunday’s game. However, one goal in two games will not consistently record wins, something that Wiler is aware of.

“Friday we had more action than we did today,” Wiler said. “ … We’re going to continue to work on all parts of our game. They [New Hampshire] were really strong defensively.”

The loss in Columbus on Sunday marks the Flashes’ second of the weekend after falling to Northwestern at home on Friday.

Kent State will travel to Iowa in search of their first win of the season. The Flashes will face the Hawkeyes at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].