Field hockey prepares for crucial weekend

Rachel Jones

The football players weren’t the only ones getting use out of the Dix Stadium field this week.

The Kent State field hockey team abandoned Murphy-Mellis Field to practice on a turf more like what it will play on at Missouri State on Sunday.

The players need to be able to control their game this weekend to create a better Mid-American Conference Tournament situation for the Flashes (12-6, 7-2 MAC).

“This game is very important,” senior goalkeeper Caroline Suitch said. “It determines the seeding of the MAC tournament, and we want a good way to end our (regular) season.”

Regardless of how the other teams in the conference play this weekend, if Kent State beats the Bears (5-12, 2-6 MAC), the Flashes will finish first in the conference.

The team who earns that top spot in the conference receives a bye week in the first round of the tournament, a luxury for teams who have been playing one or two games every weekend since the beginning of September.

But first, the Flashes need to get comfortable playing on Missouri State’s turf before heading off to compete.

“(Missouri State’s) turf is slower, and the ball gets caught up in it,” Suitch explained.

“You really have to hit harder and trap with your whole body behind it because it is bumpier.”

The chaotic nature of a ball on this turf also poses problems for goalies.

The ball can get trapped in a bump and bounce in a different, unexpected direction, causing Suitch to change up her regular techniques to prevent any goals.

“Usually in a penalty corner, I dive down to block the ball,” Suitch said. “Now, I can’t do that. I have to use a different strategy.”

But after playing on this surface throughout her career at Crestwood High School in Mountain Top, Pa., Suitch said she’s been handling it well.

The extensive preparation is to ensure the team can perform at its absolute best this weekend.

Although the Flashes buried Missouri State 9-1 when they played Oct. 10, Suitch said they cannot underestimate this weekend’s opponent.

“We can’t go in thinking ‘We’ve beaten them before; we can beat them again,’” she said.

“Every team in the MAC is feisty, so we will not be taking them lightly.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].