Flashes garner national ranking

Chris Gates

No. 20 field hockey team hits the road for last regular season game

Just when it looked as though the Kent State field hockey team had earned everything it could, the Flashes captured yet another honor.

The Flashes (14-4, 8-1 Mid-American Conference) will travel to Missouri State tomorrow as the 20th-ranked team in the nation, after being voted into the rankings in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll.

“We were obviously delighted with the ranking,” junior forward Natalie Barrett said. “But we’re not going to take that for granted.”

Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne has implemented a humble attitude within the team, which has helped lead to its success. Throughout the season, the Flashes have done their best to remain focused on their opponents and not their awards.

That strategy has paid off thus far and continues to be the mindset, even though the team has already clinched a MAC regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament next week.

The Game:

KENT STATE (14-4, 8-1 MAC) at


Where: Springfield, Mo.

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

“We can’t just take a week off from competing,” Schanne said. “We have to keep competing and keep our edge heading into the tournament.

“The importance of getting better every day is something we’re trying to stay consistent with.”

An important factor that led to the team’s success, and the No. 20 ranking, was its non-conference schedule. The Flashes matched up against five different teams that saw time in the top 20 at some point this season. That tough competition prepared the Flashes for the MAC schedule.

“Those games have really paid dividends in preparing where we stand now,” Schanne said. “So I think just the preparation game by game has paid off.”

Yet another award for Kent State this week went to freshman forward Debbie Bell, who was voted MAC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. She played a role in each of the Flashes’ six goals last weekend and increased her team lead in points to 39, with 18 goals and three assists. Kent State players have won a conference award for five straight weeks.

The Flashes will travel to Missouri State (6-12, 1-7) to play on the only natural grass surface in the conference. The Bears have struggled in the MAC this year after a 4-1 start overall and will host a highly motivated Flashes team.

Complacency is not an issue despite having secured a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament. Barrett said the Flashes are focused on one thing: winning the final game of the season.

“We want to go out winning our last regular season game of the season,” Barrett said. “No one has lost focus; we’re still working just as hard in practice. We still want to win this game.

“That will give us more confidence going in to the tournament.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].