It started with a game in 1999 …

Jeff Russ

Seniors Caitlin MacKenzie and Anna McComb have played field hockey together for eight years. As the Flashes contend for a MAC championship this weekend, it may be the last time the two share the field.

Senior back Caitlin MacKenzie and senior midfielder Anna McComb have been playing field hockey together since middle school. The two teammates travel to Oxford today to play in the Mid-American Conference Championship. ABIGAIL S. FISHER | DAILY KENT STATE

Credit: Dan Kloock

Caitlin MacKenzie and Anna McComb are used to this.

The two have played on 10 different field hockey teams since high school, winning a high school state championship along the way at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich. Before that, they were rivals in middle school.

But their time as teammates is coming to the end. Friday and Saturday’s field hockey Mid-American Conference Championship in Oxford could be the last time the Kent State seniors take the field together.

The two stood together talking, sweaty from what might be their final practice together and, like of a lot friends approaching the end of college, reflected on their time together.

“It’s bittersweet. You never want something like this to end,” MacKenzie said. “It’s good because I have so many good memories with Anna that someday we’ll laugh and tell our kids about.”

MacKenzie and McComb first played together in 1999, when MacKenzie was a sophomore and McComb was freshman at Pioneer. Not only did they play field hockey together, but they also played lacrosse. MacKenzie, a redshirt senior and team captain, joined Kent State a year before McComb. McComb said MacKenzie had a lot to do with her coming to Kent State.

“When I found out that Anna was kind of interested in Kent State during her senior year of high school, I tried to highly recruit her so I could have another Pioneer girl here,” MacKenzie said.

McComb described MacKenzie as an adviser during her freshman season at Kent State.

“She was like my big sister when I got here,” McComb said. “She did all my scheduling, because I did not know anything. She has really guided me through and turned me into the upperclassman I am.”

McComb’s senior season has been her best at Kent State. The midfielder has posted career highs in goals (three) and has started every game for the 12-8 Flashes. MacKenzie also started every game this year for the Flashes, and her defense has been a catalyst for the team’s excellent defense this season, shutting out four opponents.

Besides her play on the field, MacKenzie has always loosened up McComb.

“Caitlin always make laugh, whether it be in practice or something funny happens in a game she always makes me laugh,” McComb said. “Now we live together, so we are pretty much inseparable.”

When they played at home for the final time — Oct. 20 versus Missouri State — the women, along with the team’s three other seniors, were honored for their four years at the school. MacKenzie didn’t cry when they called her name, or when she hugged her coach or when she walked onto the field with her teammates. She cried when it was McComb’s time to come onto the field.

“We have a tradition where we always hold hands before the game during the national anthem,” MacKenzie said. “I didn’t start crying that day until Anna got her named called and her accomplishments were named.”

If the Flashes win the MAC championship Saturday, the team will advance to the NCAA tournament, and the girls will get to play together again Tuesday at 1 p.m.

“I think it would be the icing on the cake,” McComb said. “Kent State field hockey has consumed so much of our lives, to come out with a MAC championship would be a great postseason ending to a great season.”

Contact sports reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].