Flashes ready for MAC competition

Tyler McIntosh

Kent State sophomore midfielder/forward Natalie Barrett moves the ball down the field as Michigan State sophomore back Geraldine Raynor follows during their game at Murphy Mellis Field Sunday. STEVEN MANTILLA | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

It’s finally here.

Everything has been leading to this moment for the Kent State field hockey team. The off-season conditioning, tough practices and games against some of the nation’s best teams have all been done to prepare the team for a run at a fourth consecutive regular-season Mid-American Conference title.

Kent State (2-6) will have its first chance to defend the MAC regular-season title at 3 p.m. today when it hosts Miami (3-5) at Murphy Mellis Field.

“We’re so anxious to start MAC play,” senior goalie Linz Markwart said. “We are coming off of a huge win over Michigan State. The team is really looking forward to this MAC season. I think we are going to do well, and we look forward to making those strides to be the top team in the MAC.”

Markwart said she and the rest of Kent State’s experienced group are starting to come together with the young talent of the team’s underclassmen.

“I’m just trying to do my part and help the team get to the next level, and we’re getting there,” Markwart said. “Every day in practice and in every game we are making strides to do that. I like to learn from each one of these people on the team. If they’re working hard it pushes me to work hard. You learn something different from everybody. You may learn a lot from somebody skill wise, but you may learn a lot about hard work from somebody else.”

Senior forwards Kate Perry and Elizabeth Lahey are leading the offense. Perry leads the team and the MAC in goals with five and Lahey leads the team in assists with two. Markwart has been steady in the cage; she has a MAC-best 75 saves, an average of 9.38 saves per game.

In addition, Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne said her underclassmen are quickly gaining necessary experience. Three sophomores and three freshmen have started a combined 31 games for Kent State this season.

“I think the non-conference play was a really valuable experience,” Schanne said. “I think we grew a lot each week.”

The Flashes have won four straight MAC home openers. The Flashes have also won nine out of the last ten games against preseason-favorite Miami and eight of their last ten over Ball State.

Schanne is no stranger to Miami. Before being hired by Kent State, Schanne spent four years as an assistant coach for the RedHawks. But she said that her history with the RedHawks will not give the Flashes a distinct advantage.

“Every year there is a new team,” Schanne said. “I have not had a whole spring and pre-season around them. Miami had a big freshman class come in.”

Miami is led by Florence Taylor, who leads the MAC in total points with 12. Laura Seidel has a MAC-high four assists. Lindsay Quay leads Ball State with four goals.

After its test with Miami, Kent State will host another MAC opponent in Ball State at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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