Field hockey team hits road with new goalie

Tyler McIntosh

Junior goalie Kara Copeland is in the middle of a career year for the Kent State field hockey team.

Copeland, who was voted the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week, has set career highs with three wins, 50 saves and a MAC-leading 1.72 goals against average.

But this season has not always been easy for Copeland. After starting five games as a sophomore, Copeland began this season on the bench behind senior Linz Markwart.

“That was the roughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” Copeland said. “Every day was a challenge. Some days were worse than others, but I knew my role on the team. I knew my time would come. I just had to stay prepared.”

Copeland said her time on the bench was not a waste. She said that she learned how precious her time on the field is.

“The biggest thing I learned from being on the bench this year is to value your time in the game,” Copeland said. “I have so much more aggression and confidence in the goal because I know what it’s like to be on the sideline. You really have to value your time because you never know how much of it you have.

“I had to go in every game during warm-ups and practice. Sometimes I didn’t have the best practices. I would get down on myself a lot, but every game I went in thinking if something happens I’m going to play and I couldn’t let down my team.”

Copeland would finally get her chance to be the starting goalie, replacing Markwart after Kent State’s 4-7 loss to Miami.

In her debut against Ball State, Copeland stopped eight shots and gave up just one goal in a 2-1 Kent State victory.

“They told me the day of the Ball State game that I was starting,” Copeland said. “It was my first start of the season. I was just so excited and so ready. I’ve been preparing for this for three years. I knew when I got my chance that I wouldn’t disappoint and that I’d play my best.”

In Copeland’s five games as a starter, the Flashes have not allowed an opposing team to score more than two goals. Copeland said that she believes with each passing game her teammates are trusting her more and more.

“I do think I have the team’s confidence,” Copeland said. “It’s hard when you switch goalies. The team has to learn the style of the new goalie, but my team has seen me play in a lot of games. I think every day you gain more confidence. The more confidence you have, the more your team will rely on you. It rubs off on them and they know that you have it under control back there.”

Copeland said that over time she is also becoming more comfortable with her responsibilities as the starting goalie.

“I’ve seen how much I’ve matured and that I can be relied on,” Copeland said. “If the referee makes a bad call I can calm the team down and keep them under control. Everyone does look to me for support and a sense of calm.”

Kent State (5-9, 2-3 MAC) will play Miami (6-8, 3-1 MAC) and Ball State (3-9, 2-2 MAC) this weekend. Senior forwards Kate Perry, eight goals and five assists and Elizabeth Lahey, five goals and two assists, lead Kent State’s offense.

Miami leads the MAC in total offense with 42 goals and 43 assists. The RedHawk’s Alyssa Nye leads the MAC in goals with nine.

Ball State is led by Lindsay Quay, who is third in the MAC with seven goals.

Kent State will play at Miami at 3 p.m. today and at Ball State 1 p.m. Saturday.

Contact field hockey reporter Tyler McIntosh at [email protected].