Field hockey takes to the road again

After playing at Murphy-Mellis Field all September, the Kent State field hockey team is on the road again.

The Flashes (5-5, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) travel to face Central Michigan at 2 p.m. today and Northwestern at 12 p.m. Sunday.

Kent State coach Kathleen Wiler said the players are excited for the road trips.

“This team loves playing on the road more than playing at home,” Wiler said.

Senior defender Katie George said it’s because the Flashes are a good on-the-road team.

“We’re more focused when we’re away because we’re with each other a lot more,” George said. “It’s a different atmosphere when we’re all together that long, especially after a six-hour bus ride.”

The traveling is also enjoyable thanks to the care packages the players’ parents put together for the team before each trip.

“We get these goody bags with Gatorades and lots of candy,” George said. “It’s comforting.”

The senior said she misses having home fans when she plays on the road, but little things like the goody bags show the team is still supported.

While the Flashes enjoy being on the road, they lose the advantage of knowing the turf they’re playing on.

“Every turf is different,” George said. “It makes it harder not knowing every crack, dip or point on the field.”

The Flashes have gotten used to that by this point in the season and know how to pull out a road victory.

After falling to Miami 4-3 in overtime last Sunday, the team is more concerned with getting another MAC win.

“We’re just looking forward to competing in our conference again,” Wiler said.

The loss dropped Kent State out of the national coaches’ poll rankings. Before last weekend, the Flashes were No. 17.

Today’s game at 2 p.m. is the Chippewas (2-6) first MAC game of the season.

“Central Michigan is always a strong team,” George said. “We have to come out fighting and capitalize early. It’s really important that we are the ones who set the tone.”

While it’s important for the Flashes to win this for their conference standing, Wiler said playing against a well-respected team like Northwestern has its own significance.

“Out-of-conference games are serious because we want to represent the MAC well,” George added. “It also helps with NCAA standings.”

Kent State’s game at 12 p.m. on Sunday will be the first against the Wildcats (8-3, 1-0 Big Ten) since 2007. The Flashes came away with a 4-1 victory in that meeting.

“It’s good to see new names on our schedules,” George said. “It lets us switch things up.”

The Flashes also hope to switch up their ongoing pattern of splitting each weekend this season.

“We just want a win-win weekend,” George said.

Since every opponent is different, Wiler said the Flashes need some self-improvement if they want a pair of victories this weekend.

“Every opponent has its strengths and weaknesses,” Wiler said. “We need to fine-tune ourselves to get two successful match-ups.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].