MAC Preview: field hockey

Rachel Jones

Returning Champion: Ohio Bobcats

Ohio won the MAC Championship last year after defeating Miami 2-1. The Bobcats, who finished 8-2 MAC, 12-9 overall last year, were led by MAC Coach of the Year Neil Macmilan. The team will need to replace graduated senior Marcy Dull, who finished her last season as a Bobcat with 11 goals (including five game-winning goals), three assists and 70 shots (51 landing on goal).

Top Challenger: Kent State

The No. 17 Flashes are at their highest ranking since they were No. 7 in 2002. The seven-spot leap came after they defeated No. 5 Michigan State on Sept. 17 and No. 8 Syracuse on Sept. 4. Kent State is only one of two teams in the nation to defeat two top 10 teams so far this season.

The Dark Horse: Central Michigan Chippewas

Central Michigan is only 2-4 so far this season, but they lost to No. 5 Michigan State, No. 13 Louisville and Michigan, which is on a four-game winning streak. After their stacked non-conference schedule, the Chippewas may be tough enough to capture the MAC title. The last time Central Michigan won the MAC was in 2005, but it made it to the semifinals the past three years and the quarterfinals in 2006.

Player to Watch: Rachel Miller (senior, Kent State)

Kent State’s Rachel Miller is the reigning MAC Player of the Year. So far, the captain scored one goal and had four assists for the Flashes. The queen of the midfield could receive the MAC crown again this year.

Where the Flashes Stand:

Kent State may be 4-4, but six games this season were against ranked opponents. The Flashes have a stacked, healthy lineup with strong seniors in forward Nicole Leach, goalie Caroline Suitch and midfielder Rachel Miller. They can also boast junior Debbie Bell, who leads the team with six goals this season. After falling short in the semifinals to Miami (2-1 in overtime) last season, Kent State is back with vengeance.

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].