Field hockey team focuses on second round of MAC play

Rachel Jones

Kent State coach Kathleen Wiler tells freshmen well before the first practice what they can expect if they join the Kent State field hockey team.

“I tell them during the recruiting process that it is a challenge,” Wiler said. “They have to work hard.”

Even with that warning, freshman midfielder Alyssa McFerren still didn’t know what to expect when she joined the Flashes. But when she started practicing, she quickly learned it was nothing like high school.

“It’s definitely much harder,” McFerren said. “The games have a much faster pace, and I wasn’t used to working out and running that much.”

With five games left in the regular season, the freshmen have gotten used to this by now. The team is ready to start their second round of Mid-American Conference games, facing Miami and Ball State on the road this weekend.

“Our season goes so fast,” Wiler said. “These girls start out as freshmen, and the next thing you know, they’re already seniors.”

Although the season is nearing an end, the players are reaching a crucial stretch that general wear and tear starts to affect the game play.

“At the end of the season, people usually start to get worn down,” McFerren said. “But we’re still playing really well.”

And the freshmen have started to blend in with the rest of the team, adjusting to the collegiate level of field hockey.

The freshman class also consists of defender Sabrina Binder and midfielders Rebecca Lee, Melanie Kahn and Kyle Little.

“Every class adjusts differently, but this class has adjusted really well,” Wiler said. “Of course they came in asking a lot of questions and everything, but they have really gotten into the routine.”

McFerren said everything seemed to click for her when classes began.

“When we came in, we were all nervous,” McFerren said. “But once school started, we would just go to class, go to practice and play games on the weekends. We weren’t playing all day (like in the summer).”

Her teammates and coaches made her feel comfortable, easing the transition from high school to college. McFerren has played in 12 of 14 games this season.

Although well-adjusted, McFerren said she was starting to feel the mid-season effects.

“I went through a lull in the middle of the season,” she said. “My legs are tired sometimes, but knowing the end is soon is making me pick it up.”

The Flashes (8-6, 3-2 MAC) will pick it up against Miami (9-5, 4-1 MAC) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Last time they met up on Sept. 26, Kent State fell 4-3 in overtime.

The team will then face Ball State (5-7, 2-3 MAC) on Sunday at 1 p.m. McFerren said she is especially excited for this because her first collegiate goal was against the Cardinals when the Flashes beat them 8-2 on Sept. 25.

McFerren said the team has had good practices this week, and with everyone dedicated to finishing the season strong, the weekend should work out in the Flashes’ favor.

“All we have control over is staying focused on the task at hand,” Wiler said. “We’re taking care of business this weekend. No regrets.”

E-mail sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected]