Defensive stars pace field hockey

Chris Gates

The Kent State field hockey team will travel to Central Michigan today and Michigan on Sunday with a defensive mindset, anchored by another Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week, freshman back Carla Johl.

Johl, the third different back to receive the award for the Flashes this season, was also named Division I Rookie of the Week by

“It was a bit of a surprise actually, but I’m stoked,” Johl said. “I think it’s just a credit to our whole defensive team in the end.”

Kent State has shut out two of its last four opponents, allowing just two goals total in that span. That stellar defense has resulted in a four-game winning streak.

“We’ve been working really hard at just being extremely disciplined in our own 25 (yard line) and in our circle and getting low so that we’re not giving away defensive (penalty corners) or anything like that to give the opposition any opportunity to score on us,” Johl said. “I think we’ve been doing that pretty well the last couple of weeks.”


(10-5, 5-1 MAC) (3-2, 2-3 MAC) (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten)

Where: Mount Pleasant, Mich., and Ann Arbor, Mich.

When: 3 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Sunday

In the past two weeks, three Flashes have won player of the week awards. Last week freshman forward Debbie Bell was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week, while sophomore back Kara Rhodenbaugh received MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The Flashes appreciate the notoriety but aren’t letting it get in the way of their goals.

“We’ve just got to take that and use it as fuel, I suppose,” Johl said. “We’re getting these awards, but we can’t get complacent with it. We’ve just to got to keep working at it and see if we can get more people in there and keep the MAC thinking we’ve got a team that’s stacked with people that are here to score goals and here to defend goals.”

Kent State’s ability to work well on both sides of the ball will be tested by two teams playing good field hockey coming into the weekend.

Central Michigan (3-9, 2-3 MAC) has been playing better as of late than its record indicates. Recent wins against Miami and Ball State have placed the Chippewas in the middle of the conference standings.

Kent State sits alone at the top of the MAC and will travel to Michigan on Sunday to play the Wolverines (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten). Michigan is one vote behind the Flashes in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll and beat Central Michigan 5-2 in its last game.

Though Sunday is a non-conference game, Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said the contest against the Wolverines represents another chance for her team to prepare itself for the MAC Tournament.

“We have five games left to play, four of them being conference games, and we’re going to take them one game at a time,” Schanne said. “(We’ll) continue to improve with every game. Things we talk about (are) defensive discipline, sustaining attack . just the details right now are really important as we start to wind it down.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].