Loss to Central ends season, DeVries’ career

Matt Gottfried

Despite an early departure in the 2005 Mid-American Conference tournament, the Kent State field hockey team returned home from Mount Pleasant anything but empty handed.

Four players received All-MAC honors, helping to mask a disappointing 2-0 loss to Central Michigan (11-11, 5-5 MAC) in the second round of the MAC tournament. The upset not only snapped the Flashes’ (8-13, 8-2 MAC) six-game winning streak, but it also brought an end to the 2005 season.

“We just didn’t come out and play a pro-active game,” coach Kerry DeVries said. “In the past, we always came right out and started playing energized hockey, but for whatever reason that just didn’t happen Friday. They were all excited and ready for the game, they just didn’t play they way they needed in order to win.

“It was our second-straight game against them, and they had us scouted well. They realized that if they shut down Berber (Rischen), we wouldn’t be able to move the ball like we’ve been accustomed to. We just didn’t make the adjustments early enough.”

Among those four players receiving accolades for their success this season was junior forward Rischen, who earned All-MAC first team for the second straight year. Rischen finished the season with a team-high eight assists to go along with her three goals. Her 14 points ranked fifth on the team.

The other two players to be named to the All-MAC first team were junior midfielders Liz Fettrow and Charlotte Muller. Fettrow finished second on the team in goals with seven and had 15 points, while Muller’s dominance on defense helped her to also earn a spot.

Junior forward Elizabeth Lahey received All-MAC second team honors with her team-high eight goals and 18 points.

“We’ve had talented players all season,” DeVries said. “Even though we struggled early on in the season, most of those games were out of conference. Once we got more into MAC play, those girls really stepped it up and the opposing teams noticed. I’m not surprised at all by the number of players that made the team.”

Freshman forward Melanie Bierens de Haan brought home Freshman of the Year honors as she was the only freshman in the MAC to record seven or more goals. Bierens de Haan earned seven goals and five assists for the season.

The loss to Central Michigan, the first in three meetings this season, marked the end to DeVries’ reign as head coach of the Flashes. She will head to Belgium next year to be with her family. DeVries helped to turn a 0-11 team into conference champions, an accomplishment that earned her Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time during her nine-year reign at Kent State.

“It feels great to have won the award again,” DeVries said. ” I’m very lucky to be in the position to coach here at Kent State. But I don’t look at this award as a personal recognition. I think it is truly a team honor. Everyone in this program contributed to the turnaround.”

While at Kent State, DeVries led the Flashes to five regular season titles and four MAC tournament championships. From 1998-2002, she guided the team to five-straight NCAA tournament appearances. During her nine years as head coach, she compiled a 126-67 record for a winning percentage of .667. Despite her accomplishments, DeVries would rather be remembered for the formation of the family now present in Kent State field hockey.

“I’ve always believed in this program, and I’d like to be remembered for being a coach that continually kept building every single day,” DeVries said. “These athletes represent our program well, and they are all a part of this community. I take a lot of pride in the way they represent this team.”

Though the team finished with a sub .500 record, the rough eight-game road stretch to begin the season, the 0-11 start and the early exit in the MAC tournament was all forgotten when the Flashes reeled off eight-straight conference wins to close out the season with the MAC championship.

“I’m very proud of how they came back and started to play well toward the middle of the season,” DeVries said. “They showed a lot of strength and determination to not give up and remain focus on their goal to win the MAC. I’m never going to forget this team for all the heart they showed this season.”

Contact field hockey reporter Matt Gottfried at [email protected].