Field hockey captures MAC regular season championship

Rachel Jones

The Kent State field hockey team went into yesterday’s game against Missouri State knowing how vital a victory would be.

“We knew we had to go in, get the job done and finish it up quickly,” said junior forward Debbie Bell. “With (Mid-American Conference) regular season champs on the line, we knew it was a must-win.”

And the Flashes did win, 4-2 on the road, making them the MAC regular season champions for the third year in a row.

Kent State coach Kathleen Wiler said she was glad the team could accomplish the goal and add on to the program’s successful history.

Kent State 4, Missouri State 2


  • 27’ Johl (unassisted) — Kent State
  • 39’O’Connor (Bayliss) — Missouri State
  • 39’O’Connor (Bayliss) — Missouri State
  • 42’ Bell (Arbelaez) — Kent State
  • 46’ Stoute (unassisted) — Missouri State
  • 66’ Miller (Arbelaez) — Kent State

“I think there’s an excellent tradition of Kent State field hockey built on the hard work of a lot of women over the years,” Wiler said, “so we’re happy to contribute to that success.”

The team does share the first place title with Miami, but off goal differential in league play, the Flashes gain the No.1 seed in the MAC Tournament.

“It’s a little disappointing that we have to share the title,” Bell said. “I think we’re a team that needs to stand out by itself, but hey, a win’s a win.”

The shared title wouldn’t be possible without yesterday’s victory over Missouri State (5-14, 2-8 MAC).

Although the Flashes (13-6, 8-2 MAC) outshot the Bears 25-9 and outcornered them 17-5, the action did not occur right away.

The game remained scoreless until junior back Carla Johl scored in the 27th minute. The pacing was very different from last weekend when the Flashes scored in the seventh minute against both Ohio and Central Michigan.

Player of the weekend: Debbie Bell

The junior forward fired two back-to-back goals in two minutes, leading the Flashes to a victory and the MAC Regular Season Championship.

“We had a lot of opportunities, but it’s a different surface, so that made it a little more difficult for us,” Bell explained. “It just took a few more shots than usual to get a goal.”

The second half got off to a faster start as the Bears (5-14, 2-8 MAC) tucked away their first goal in the 39th minute.

But Bell made sure Kent State came back on top.

“The moment they did score, that was just boom, boom, boom for us,” Bell said.

She slammed two more goals in the 41st and 42nd minutes. The first goal came from a long pass by freshman midfielder Rebecca Lee and the second was off a penalty corner.

Missouri State tried to come back with a goal in the 46th minute, but the Flashes’ defense wouldn’t allow it.

Senior goalkeeper Caroline Suitch’s performance lead to her 41st victory, tying her for third place for most Kent State career wins.

Senior midfielder Rachel Miller sealed the victory when she scored off a penalty corner in the 66th minute.

“We’re all pretty level-headed about it and not getting ahead of ourselves because we still have the tournament and maybe even further to play,” Bell said.

Wiler said she is excited about the win but knows the team must focus on what lies ahead.

“The tournament is a whole new season,” she said.

Stat of the weekend: 3

This is the Flashes’ third straight MAC Regular Season Championship.

The MAC Tournament will be held Nov. 4-6, but the No. 1-seeded Flashes will not play until the semifinal game Friday. They will face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal game between Central Michigan and Missouri State.

Saturday’s championship game is also an NCAA play-in game, so the winner will play the Patriot League champion next Tuesday.

Bell said the No. 1 seed is a confidence booster and will play a role in pushing the team to accomplish these future goals.

“I think we’re all in a really good place right now,” Bell said. “We’re looking forward to the tournament and also looking forward to what’s after the tournament. We have a huge belief in ourselves and the team, so it’s a good feeling right now.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].