Flashes win their sixth straight game

Chris Gates

Weekend trip to Michigan turns out successful after two Kent State victories

The Kent State field hockey team dedicates a significant amount of time in every practice to perfecting its corner execution.

That work resulted in two wins over the weekend, as the Flashes (12-4, 6-1 Mid-American Conference) beat Michigan 1-0 yesterday and Central Michigan 5-2 Friday.

Freshman back Carla Johl scored off a penalty corner situation in overtime to beat Michigan (8-8), last year’s Big Ten Conference champion. After a corner in the overtime period, sophomore midfielder Rachel Miller got possession of the ball and passed it to Johl for the game-winner at the 73:38 mark.

“We had a (penalty corner) . it sort of broke down, and the ball came across the circle,” Johl said. “I just hit a shot and it went into the left-hand corner.”

Both teams struggled to get things going offensively yesterday, combining for a total of eight shots in the game. The difference came in the Flashes’ ability to use their penalty corners as a main source of offense.

“We enjoy playing in those kind of conditions,” Johl said. “All over the field, we just performed extremely well. I think we thrived on the whole fight and the excitement of the game.”

Game Notes

&bull Miller’s charge: Sophomore midfielder Rachel Miller scored two goals and one assist to bring her season point total to 28, just four behind freshman forward Debbie Bell.

&bull Suitch shuts the door: Caroline Suitch’s shutout of Michigan yesterday was her fifth of the year and third in as many weekends.

&bull Streaking to the postseason: Since Sept. 19, Kent State has only lost one game, a 1-0 decision to Ohio. The Flashes have compiled a 9-1 record in that span.

Winning on the road against a Big Ten opponent was important for the Flashes, especially because they had not won in Ann Arbor, Mich., since 1980.

“We’re feeling pretty confident,” Johl said. “We’ve improved so much over the last couple of weeks. I mean, there’s still things we need to work on every game, but I think we’re feeling good about the next couple of weeks coming up, and we’ve just got to finish it up.”

The work on corners was evident at Central Michigan (4-10, 3-4 MAC) as well, as it resulted in four goals against the Chippewas. Miller and sophomore forward Nicole Leach scored two goals apiece, and junior forward Laurie Wilkins added another for the Flashes.

“I thought we had some beautiful ball movement and really great attacking play against Central Michigan,” Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said. “We created a lot of corner opportunities and were able to execute, which is huge. I think we do put a lot of preparation into what the other team is running defensively and really try to figure out how we can score. So I think the hard work paid off.”

With effort in practice transferring to the playing field, the Flashes are looking to keep that same focus and apply it in the final three games of the season. They will host Miami on Saturday and Ball State on Sunday at Murphy-Mellis Field.

“Today we’re going to celebrate the weekend, and then we’re going to refocus because we have two very tough, tough games coming up this weekend,” Schanne said. “Miami is a very good team, and we need to be very prepared for them. I think we won’t linger on this. We’ll enjoy it today and then refocus and prepare to play two next weekend.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].