Field hockey seeking revenge in MAC opener

Rachel Jones

Tomorrow at 1 p.m., the Flashes (4-4) will get a shot at redemption on Murphy-Mellis Field.

“We need to prove to ourselves that we should’ve beaten them last year,” senior forward Nicole Leach said. “It’s good that we get to start with Miami because it’ll get us right into it — no messing around.”

The RedHawks defeated Kent State in the semifinal game in overtime, 2-1.

Kent State coach Kathleen Wiler said the game is important to her, but she does not focus on the rivalry of it.

“Every game we play in the MAC is big,” Wiler said. “I think the team wants some revenge, but it’s a new team and a new year.”

Leach said the RedHawks (5-2) have always been a rival team for No.17 Kent State.

“They’re a tough and aggressive team, but we’re tougher and more aggressive,” Leach said. “It should be a pretty good match.”

Wiler said leadership from Leach and the other upperclassmen players could give the Flashes the upper hand.

“I’m looking for the upperclassmen to lead our team,” Wiler said. “We have 12 veterans, as I like to call them, and I expect a lot out of them.”

One of those vets, junior Debbie Bell, is the MAC Offensive Player of the Week.

The forward scored one goal in last weekend’s 2-0 victory over No. 5 Michigan State and one in the 2-1 loss to No. 13 Boston.

Bell now leads the team with six goals this season and is tied with Jill Woodruff for fourth-most career goals (56) in Kent State’s history.

Also gaining recognition this week is senior forward Rachel Miller.

The two-time All-American captain made the honor roll after assisting two of the three Kent State goals this weekend. She now leads the team with four this season.

With Miller and Bell leading Kent State’s offense, the team leaped seven spots in the coaches’ poll to No. 17.

The team hasn’t reached a ranking this high since its time at No. 7 in 2002.

“It’s nice to be recognized by the other coaches,” Wiler said. “Knocking off a top 10 team this weekend was great.”

Along with the Sept. 17 victory over No. 5 Michigan State, the Flashes also defeated No. 8 Syracuse on Sept 4. They are one of two teams that have defeated two top 10 teams this season.

“We’ve played hard and challenged ourselves, and it’s good to see the results,” Leach said.

The team will continue to play hard against Ball State (3-3) in their first MAC game of the season at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Kent State has split every weekend this season, so Wiler said she is hoping for a winning weekend.

“I just want to see us put two games together,” Wiler said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all week.”

The team has also been discussing how important MAC play is this season.

“This is our crunch time,” Leach said. “We have to be on top of our game because these games could lead to winning the conference and getting us to the NCAA.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected]