Field hockey team sizzles as homestand begins

Jeff Russ

The Kent State field hockey team returns home this weekend to play Central Michigan tomorrow at noon and Ohio University Sunday at 1 p.m. with something it did not have all of last season: eight wins.

The 8-3 Golden Flashes have already won more games this season than all of last season, when the team went 7-15.

“We have shown progress every game, and we don’t give up on games,” senior goalie Kara Copeland said. “We have more of that than any team I have been on.”

The Golden Flashes are red hot right now, winning eight of the last nine games and going into the weekend tied for first in the Mid-American Conference at 3-0.

One reason for the team’s success this season is the play of freshmen Rachel Miller and Nicole Leach. The two have combined for 10 goals and 10 assists.

“I feel like I have improved a lot,” Leach said. “As the days go on, it gets easier. I think it is because the coaches didn’t separate us between freshmen and seniors, everyone played together, and it made all the freshmen step up.”

Last week, the two combined for the game-winning overtime goals — assisting each other — in victories against Missouri State and St. Louis. Leach leads the MAC with three game-winning goals.

“We all play really well together,” Leach said. “A lot of us combine passes really well, but Rachel and I just happen to get it off and score.”

The seniors have also noticed their performance. Copeland said she is not surprised as much as she is excited about the play of the freshmen.

“This year we have been able to have a lot of freshmen step into key positions, more than in any other year,” she said. “They have accepted the challenge and they are willing to do anything to bring home the wins, much like the rest of the team.”

The Golden Flashes return home this weekend for the first time in a month. The team has only played one home game this season, a 3-0 win over Ohio State on Sept. 4.

The players said they look forward to being back home.

“Of course I am looking forward to playing at home,” Leach said. “We finally get to stay and watch the homecoming week, and my parents are coming from San Diego to watch us play, so it is really exciting.”

Sunday’s opponent, Ohio, is the defending MAC champions and is tied with Kent State atop the MAC at 3-0.

“This is definitely going to be a tough weekend,” Copeland said. “Everything we have worked for so far has prepared us for this. More so than any other games, I think we are prepared for victory this weekend.”

Contact sports reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].