Nobody puts baby in the corner

Rachel Jones

Not many people understand the rules of field hockey.

Parts of the game may resemble that of a lovechild between soccer and ice hockey, but it’s uniquely characterized by its most important aspect: the penalty corner.

This game-changing play usually puts seven attackers against three defenders and a goalie. Outnumbering the defense in front of the goal creates an optimum scoring opportunity.

The Flashes proved this in their Oct. 1 shutout over Central Michigan, when senior midfielder Rachel Miller and junior defender Carla Johl scored both Kent State goals on penalty corners.

Sports reporter Rachel Jones sat down with Miller, junior defender Amy Wimsatt and senior forward Nicole Leach to find out what really goes down in front of the cage.

RJ: What causes a penalty corner?

AW: On the field, there’s a semicircle (around the goal). Basically, any foul that occurs inside of our attacking circle results in a penalty corner.

RJ: How is a penalty corner done?

AW: (The insert) can drag (the ball) out (from the baseline) to anyone that she really wants to. It just has to go outside the circle then come back in. You have to score from inside the circle. (The stick stopper) will stop it, and she’ll flick it into the circle and then (the striker) takes the shot.

NL: The strikers can run on to hit or make passes to the L1 position, which is to the left of the circle.

AW: If it’s a straight shot, the ball can’t go above where the backboard is (and) hit the net. It has to hit the board, which is about knee height (to count), unless there’s no backswing.

RJ: What’s your role during a penalty corner?

AW: I’m the insert. I am on the baseline, and I drag the ball into play. After, I just run into the near post, and pick up any rebound or shot that goes wide of the cage.

After Wimsatt pushes the ball into play, it goes to Leach.

NL: I’m the stick stopper. I trap it outside of the circle and give it a little push, so that it goes just inside of the circle. (Then) the striker can do a straight shot. If I mess up on the trap or miss the ball, it’s not a very good thing.

Once Leach puts the ball back inside the circle, it’s Miller’s time to contribute.

RM: I’m generally at the top of the circle with Deb, striking the ball. Most of the time, Debbie is our main striker, so she’s the one that will hit for the goal. I’m more of the person that hits the deflections to people running in.

RJ: What’s going through your mind during all of this?

AW: After I’ve dragged out, I’m thinking, “Just get in position. Get ready for the ball.” You never really know what’s going to happen. You have to stay really focused.

NL: I just think about the play and what my job is. I kind of don’t really focus on anyone else’s position because I don’t want to mess myself up.

RM: I just really try to score because it’s really the best opportunity to score in a game.

RJ: All three defenders stand inside of the cage with the goalie before the corner starts. What do they do once the play starts?

RM: They (can) run in a row-type formation (with) one person coming out to the hitter. It’s the standard formation. Or, (defenders) can run what’s called a two-two, where two runners come out equally high.

RJ: If Kent State defends a penalty corner, where are you?

AW: I’m second-string for the defense. You have to cover as many positions in that circle as you can and look for the recovery of the defense.

NL: I am the post player, so (I) stand on the left post next to our goal keeper’s feet. When the ball is hit, if she can’t reach it, I’m basically there to deflect it and prevent it from going into the left corner of the goal.

RM: I’m kind of the right trail, so I’m towards the goalie’s stick side. I just try and stop an L1 tipper or the back-to-(insert) kind of play.

RJ: How have Kent State’s penalty corners been this season?

RM: We’ve gotten really good advantages of scoring when we’re on the attack. As a defensive group, we haven’t had many goals scored against us in corners. We’ve been really good with our corner structures this year.

Contact Rachel Jones at[email protected].