Flashes clinch MAC with two clutch wins

Thomas Gallick

With a pair of 3-1 victories over Miami and Ball State, the Kent State field hockey team achieved what every team in the Mid-American Conference has been working toward since the season started: an outright MAC regular season title.

The Flashes (14-4, 8-1 MAC) did so without being able to put an entire game together, coach Kathleen Schanne said. Schanne was pleased with Saturday’s first half against Miami, as well as yesterday’s second half against Ball State.”We need to still keep pushing to play 70 minutes,” Schanne said. “These teams, Ball State and Miami, we have the utmost respect for them, and they’re well-coached. As you can see, we let both teams put a goal on the board, and we don’t want to (allow) that.”

The coaching staff let the team know that with spirited talks during each game. The players responded each time, and they have the same goals as their coaches for the upcoming week of practice.

“I think we still need to work on putting a whole game together, playing a full 70 minutes,” senior back MaryKate Hanosek said. “But I think there were a lot of moments where we (saw) how well we can do when we put it together. So we’re just going to work hard this week and keep it going.”

Hanosek and fellow senior back Stephanie Bernthal were honored Sunday for Senior Day. The two have had a large role in guiding the team to its championship season, Schanne said.

“Ever since I’ve met them, they’ve been very, very hard-working girls,” Schanne said. “They’ve bought in to what (assistant coaches) Rich (Sutton and) Katy (Tran) and I brought to this program.

“I’m just happy that I’ve gotten to coach them for three years.”

In those three years, and onto this season, Bernthal and Hanosek have been part of a winning tradition, compiling a conference record of 26-13. This season has been the best yet, and there is still one game to play.

“You couldn’t ask for anything more than a MAC championship for my senior year,” Hanosek said. “It doesn’t really get any better than that.”

As for 2008, it has definitely left its mark on the seniors. The winning tradition the program is developing has set this year apart from the others, Hanosek said.

“As a whole, this team has the best chemistry I think,” she said. ” . I just think, as far as winning goes, this is the best year.”

Both Bernthal and Hanosek have played in all 18 games this season and have played different roles in leading the backfield.

Bernthal has started in 16 games and is one point away from matching single-season high of seven. Hanosek has been a key reserve, starting three games and coming off the bench in the other 15.

The experience is something that will be missed for the future of Kent State field hockey, Schanne said.

“Definitely, we’ll miss them,” Schanne said. “They’ve been mainstays in the back there, and they set the tone in practice on what’s acceptable, along with the coaching staff.”

With one regular season game left and the entire MAC tournament being held at Murphy-Mellis Field, Schanne stressed the Flashes are not concerned about the future just yet. The Flashes travel to Missouri State Saturday and will use the game to plug in players and experiment for the tournament.

“We have to play on their home turf,” Schanne said. “We’ve just got to get down there and get the job done.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].

Game Notes:

&bull A streak for the ages: With two more wins this weekend, Kent State extended its winning streak to eight games, the team’s longest since 2000.

&bull Eight leads to nine: The eight-game winning streak also clinched the Mid-American Conference regular-season title, the ninth in school history.

&bull Home sweet home: The Flashes finished the year with a 7-1 record at home, where the Mid-American Conference Tournament will be held from Nov. 6 to Nov.KSU football shocks Miami in 54-21 blowout

Thomas Gallick