Depth main concern after season-opening loss

Tyler McIntosh

Freshman Annika Gouws fights to retrieve the ball in Saturday’s field hockey game against James Madison. Kent State fell in its season opener 3-1. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

James Madison managed to spoil Kent State field hockey’s opening day for the second-straight season Saturday.

The Dukes (1-0), who were ranked No. 18 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association preseason poll, beat the Flashes (0-1) 3-1. Last year, James Madison defeated Kent State 3-0.

Despite the loss, Kent State coach Kathleen Schanne was happy with her team’s performance.

“I thought that when we played together there was some beautiful attacking play and passing patterns,” Schanne said. “I also thought there was some beautiful transfer play around the backfield.”

Senior forward Kate Perry also saw several reasons to be excited about the Flashes performance.

“We played as a team and that’s huge,” Perry said. “We all played together and everyone was involved. I think that is what’s going to win us games. In my four years here, that was the single best first game we have played together as a team.

“The team is very optimistic. James Madison is a top team in the country so we are very optimistic for the rest of the season. It’s going to be great,” she said.

The first half saw both teams take turns putting pressure on each other. James Madison started out by controlling the field and firing off eight shots before Kent State managed one. Then, the Flashes stepped up their offense and forced five shots and four penalty corners in a 13-minute stretch.

Senior goalie Linz Markwart managed to keep the Dukes at bay by blocking seven shots before surrendering the first goal of the year to freshman forward Megan Bain. The half ended with the Flashes trailing 1-0.

Kent State fought back and tied the game early in the second half, thanks to Perry’s first goal of the season.

“It was basically the three forwards working together to get it up there,” Perry said. “I was just in the right place at the right time, and I banged it in.”

However, the comeback was short-lived. Two minutes later, sophomore forward Melissa Stefaniak put James Madison ahead for good with her first goal. Bain would later collect her second goal of the game for the Dukes.

But Schanne said she is slightly concerned about her team’s lack of depth. Seven players played the entire game for the Flashes and two more played 66 minutes. On the other hand, James Madison only had four players play all 70 minutes and one play for 66 minutes. Fresh legs could be a concern for the Flashes.

Kent State will host Albany at 1 p.m. today at Murphy Mellis Field.

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