The machine that kept on rolling all season finally was derailed as the No. 19 Kent State field hockey team lost to No. 17 Massachusetts yesterday in a NCAA tournament play-in game, 1-0.
A win would have advanced the Flashes to the field of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Losing sent them home, but coaches and players alike are pleased with what they accomplished this season.
“Everyone’s just proud of how far we’ve come,” sophomore midfielder Rachel Miller said. “We’re really focusing on the fact that we’ve come away with a MAC conference championship and winning the MAC Tournament.”
&bull Season for the ages: Kent State’s final overall record of 17-5 and winning percentage of .773 is the best finish since the 2000 season.
&bull Movin’ on up: Coming in to the game Kent State was ranked No. 19 in the NFHCA Top 20, the highest national ranking for the Flashes all year.
&bull Strong “D”: The Flashes exemplified the improvement of their corner defense throughout the season yesterday, stopping all 10 of Massachusetts opportunities.
Kent State expected the game to be tough but hoped the close game would have gone in its favor. UMass’ junior forward Jill Powers dashed those hopes at the 48:42 mark of play with the only goal of the game.
The ball came across from the right side of the field, and Powers knocked the ball out of the air just off the far post. The initial shot missed, but she regrouped, settled the ball and fired it past Kent State sophomore goalkeeper Caroline Suitch for the goal.
“It was a tough loss,” Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said. “Going into this game, we knew it was going to be a battle. We really thought it would be a one-goal game, and that’s what it ended up to be.”
Schanne called a timeout not long after the goal to regroup her team. She urged her team to stay composed and stick to the game plan.
“I think we did at that point,” she said. “We got some attack going. It was back and forth. We had a couple chances as time was winding down; we were right there. We were on the doorstep. We just weren’t able to put one in.”
The two teams were tied at halftime in a defensive first half. Suitch helped the Flashes keep the game scoreless by making key saves throughout the half.
The Flashes’ defense performed equally in the second half, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on opportunities. Kent State actually played with a man advantage as time wound down because of a yellow card on UMass sophomore midfielder Makaela Potts with 6:20 left on the clock.
“The team was ready to go,” Schanne said. “I’m, overall, really proud of this team. I think, you know, we had some opportunities, and we just didn’t tuck them in.”
Aiding UMass’ offense throughout the game was the shot total. Kent State trailed in that department 10-3 in the second half, and 18-8 overall. A 10-4 corner advantage also helped the Minutewomen’s offense.
Despite the season ending earlier than they hoped, the Flashes are proud of all their accomplishments throughout the season.
Was it a success? “Absolutely,” Schanne said.
“I mean, regular season champions, MAC Tournament champions,” she added. “I think you can’t rate the season on one game, and I think it’s been, overall, a really good year.”
Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected]