Flashes move into first with two weekend wins

Chris Gates

Field hockey snags wins over Miami and Ohio to take conference lead

With a 2-1 win over Miami on Saturday and a 5-0 shutout of Ball State on Sunday, the Kent State field hockey team (8-4, 3-1) is now in a three-way tie for first place in the Mid-American Conference.

The Flashes worked all week in practice on offensive pressure after a 1-0 loss at home to Ohio on Sept. 28. Kent State field hockey coach Kathleen Schanne said she saw the improvements during the road trip.

“Overall we’ve been working on our attack, and I think with every goal and every win, it’s a total team effort,” Schanne said. “I’m happy with the way our forward line is playing. They really have improved this past weekend, and we just hope to continue with that.”

In both games, the Flashes started the scoring early. It took just more than five minutes for Kent State to get a 1-0 lead each game.

On Saturday, freshman forward Debbie Bell got the early goal off of a hard slap shot on the left side. Sophomore midfielder Rachel Miller then scored the eventual game-winning goal 13 minutes in to the second half.

“We got on the board early,” Schanne said. “At one point, it was 2-0 until the last 10 minutes of the game. I think from that point on, being 2-1, we really maintained our composure, valued possession of the ball and came out with a win.”

The Redhawks stopped the Flashes championship run in the semi-finals of last year’s MAC Tournament. Despite that, Schanne said that the focus going into the game never changed.

“I think, sure, it was on the athletes’ minds,” Schanne said. “But every year it’s a new team, and I think we just really wanted to focus on giving our best performance and fighting hard.”

Sunday’s game was more of an offensive display. Both Bell and sophomore forward Nicole Leach scored two goals each, and Miller added her second of the weekend in a 5-0 win.

The Flashes displayed strong defense as a result of their offensive pressure. Ball State managed only four shots all game, three on goal.

With the weekend sweep, Kent State is tied with Miami and Ohio for first in the MAC with 3-1 records. Miami beat Ohio 2-1 on Sunday, giving the Bobcats their first conference loss.

After four conference games, Schanne said, the focus is not on being in first in the standings. The Flashes will now focus on traveling to Ohio on Friday.

“We’re happy with that,” Schanne said about leading the MAC. “We’re looking forward to preparing this week and getting another shot at Ohio.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].

Game Notes:

• The Bell tolls 12

With three more goals this weekend, Debbie Bell increased her team lead in goals to 14, and points to 29.

• Another Suitch shutout

Sophomore goalkeeper Caroline Suitch stopped all three shots on goal at Ball State, earning her second shutout of the season.

• Back at .500

With two road wins this weekend, Kent State is now 3-3 on the road on the year.