Undefeated Flashes remain confident

Cody Erbacher

Kent State field hockey begins the second round of the MAC

The first half of the Mid-American Conference season is over, and the Kent State field hockey team is feeling confident after being undefeated in conference play.

The players’ high level of confidence could cause a lack of focus, but the coaches are doing their best to keep the team playing their best.

“We, as a coaching staff, try to prepare them the best we can for each opponent and just get (the team) to focus on that opponent,” Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said.

After facing all five MAC teams, the closest game the team had was a 2-1 overtime victory against Ohio.

“If we’re down, our mentality is always that we can come back,” junior midfielder Rachel Miller said. “There should never be a moment that we think we can’t come back.

Schanne said the team plays well while being behind in the score.

“We respond when we’re scored on,” Schanne said. “When we get that first goal, they just start dropping in. I’m pleased with how they’re responding and showing a lot of character.”

Although Kent State is undefeated in the MAC, the last three opponents scored first on the Flashes, giving the team the challenge of getting on the board.

“We’ve always been a comeback team,” Miller said. “That’s not how we want to be known, but we’re always just focusing on trying to come out really hard at the start.”

Sophomore forward Debbie Bell has been providing Kent State with pivotal goals all season. During the 3-2 victory over Ball State, Bell scored all three goals for the Flashes with her third hat trick of the season.

It was Bell’s eighth straight game with goal moving her to a tie for third in the nation in goals scored. Bell also leads the MAC in goals scored.

Helping Bell’s cause is Miller, who has assisted Bell four times this season. Miller leads the team with six assists.

“I think our passing game is really key,” Miller said. “When we pass well we play well, we connect well and everything just seems to flow so we come away with wins.”

Schanne said that the team’s success has made the Flashes a target for other MAC teams, with every MAC game bringing extra intensity. The Flashes last lost to a MAC team Sept. 28, 2008, against Ohio.

Schanne has told the team during halftime that other MAC teams playing Kent State view it as their biggest game of the season.

Going into the second half of the MAC schedule, the Flashes have the luxury of playing four out of the five games at home, but they still expect a challenge.

“It’s nice to have the bottom half of our schedule at home,” Miller said. “(Visiting teams) are weary that it’s at your home and your crowd so they come out fighting.”

Another aspect of home games that might affect the team is the problem of not having a set team meeting times.

“Sometimes we’re a better road team,” Schanne said. “It’s nice to have scheduled meeting and eating times.”

Kent State travels to Athens to take on Ohio today at 3.

Contact sports reporter Cody Erbacher at [email protected].