Field hockey splits opening weekend

Rachel Jones

The Kent State field hockey team split its opening weekend at the James Madison Field Hockey Complex with a victory over William and Mary Saturday and a shutout from No. 12 James Madison yesterday.

Although senior goalkeeper Caroline Suitch made five saves, James Madison managed to score four goals early on in the first half.

“We had a bump in the road in the first half,” said Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne. “All of the goals were scored in less than five minutes.”

Kent State seemed to get on track for a victory after that, collecting more shots and penalty corners than the Bulldogs.

“We stayed in the moment and played with a lot of passion,” Schanne said. “We had our opportunities, but we just didn’t come out with a win.”

Senior captain Rachel Miller said the defeat came more from a mental hurdle than a physical one.

“We really came out in that first game ready and raring to go, and we didn’t really come out as hard in the second,” Miller said. “I think that’s something we can learn and improve on: Be ready for the second game, and bring it on.”

While the team may not have had the mental stamina for the two-game weekend, Schanne said she has faith in the team’s future games.

“I couldn’t believe more in a group than I do in these student athletes,” Schanne said. “We just scratched the surface on what we’ve learned about each other, so we’re looking forward to continuing that in the next couple of months.”

One aspect the team will work on is coordinating the strongest defense possible.

With previously injured juniors Stephanie Albarez and Carla Johl back on the field, the Flashes have the luxury of toying around with several strong players to see what lineup would be the most successful.

“We’re really healthy right now, so we have a lot of options,” Schanne said. “It’s been exciting to try those out.”

The formula on Saturday seemed to work out.

Keeping up with traditions, the team won its third-straight season opener against William and Mary.

The Flashes overpowered the Tribe, 4-1, with four different players contributing goals.

“Four different people scoring just shows the opposition how dangerous many people (on our team) can be this year,” Miller said.

Two-time All-American Miller was the first to start the scoring trend, but she said it was really a team goal.

“It came up from the back play, and then there was a really good assist from (junior) Debbie Bell,” Miller said. “It was something the team had really worked for, and it was great to put it away for them.”

Bell got her own goal later on, as did senior Katie George and freshman Melanie Kahn, who was making her collegiate field hockey debut.

“We’re all about giving 100 percent effort, everyone touching the ball and playing as a team,” Schanne said. “We really do try to play team hockey, and you can see that through the score line (Saturday).”

The team will continue to work together during this week of practice and learn from its experiences this weekend.

Schanne said, “What we learned (yesterday) was that we need to stay in the moment and focus on the process. We’re going to continue to do that and keep working on that concept as we face the challenges ahead of us.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].