Tough schedule fits Flashes

Tyler McIntosh

Despite poor record, field hockey team enjoys playing nation’s top teams

Kent State senior forward Kate Perry keeps the ball from Colgate’s Lauren Carey during Sunday’s game at Murphy Mellis Field. The Flashes defeated the Raiders 3-2 for their first victory of the season. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

The Kent State field hockey team’s record is not that pretty right now. In fact, at 1-5, it’s downright ugly.

With four of the team’s first six opponents ranked in the top 20 by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, a few losses might be expected. However, the reigning Mid-American Conference champions like their tough, non-conference schedule.

“We definitely prefer to play the nationally ranked teams,” senior forward Kate Perry said. “Not everyone gets the opportunity to play the top teams in the country. It will definitely improve our games for when we get to the MAC season.”

Kent State is more concerned about being ready for the Mid-American Conference portion of its schedule than they are about pulling off any Cinderella-sized upsets.

“The team has improved a lot,” coach Kathleen Schanne said. “We’ve played a really tough schedule. I think the games against Iowa, Duke and Michigan have really prepared us as we’ve went along.”

Perry echoed the coach’s thoughts.

“We may not be winning, but we are learning,” Perry said. “We are going against these really good teams, so, hopefully, when we get to the MAC we can dominate.”

Since losing to James Madison in the season opener, Kent State has improved in almost every aspect of the game.

Kent State’s offense managed to get only two shots off against Iowa in its third game of the season. However, it appears that the Flashes broke out of their slump. They had 31 shots in their most recent game, a win over Colgate.

Naturally, the increase in scoring opportunities has led to an increase in scoring. Kent State scored just two goals in its first four games. In Kent State’s last two games, the team has scored five goals. Perry currently leads the MAC in goals with four.

“We need to get better at what we are doing every game and keep working on the details,” Schanne said. “We still have some stuff to work on, but I think the team is really meshing well.”

However, Kent State isn’t just improving its offense. The team’s defense has also improved dramatically.

Kent State allowed 11 total goals in back-to-back losses to Duke and Iowa. But in its last two games the team has cut that number down to just five goals surrendered. Senior goalie Linz Markwart currently leads the MAC in saves with 56.

“We have a young defense, and getting acquainted to the college game takes a little bit of time,” Markwart said. “Their confidence is building. They are starting to use the skills that they have learned in the preseason and practice.”

Kent State does not expect to be handed a fourth consecutive regular-season MAC championship without the rest of the conference putting up a fight.

“The MAC schools are all playing really well, and they are beating some nationally ranked teams,” Perry said. “It’s going to be a good competition between all of the teams. I think it’s going to be really close. Hopefully, if we work hard enough we will have that edge.”

The Flashes are currently fifth in the MAC behind Ball State, Ohio, Miami and conference leader Central Michigan. MAC play kicks off Sept. 22 against Miami. Going out as champions is something that is important to the team’s seniors.

“Winning the MAC would be a great thing,” Markwart said. “We want to end our senior year the best way possible. We’ve had a very successful four years. I have four rings for four fingers, and I am looking for that fifth ring.”

Kent State will cap off its non-conference schedule this weekend when they host No. 2 Wake Forest on Friday at 3 p.m. and No. 16 Michigan State on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be played at Murphy Mellis field.

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