Flashes’ field hockey goalkeepers win honors

Matt Gottfried

Junior forward Kate Perry tries to steal the ball away from a Central Michigan player October 7. Kent State went on to win the game 5-3. The next game is against Missouri State on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Two talented goalkeepers; one position.

That is the dilemma – or rather luxury – Kent State field hockey coach Kerry DeVries is presented with after a pair of Flashes’ goalkeepers earned Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for their efforts in recent weeks.

While the team crawls its way back into MAC contention with its most recent wins over Miami and Ball State, junior Linz Markwart and sophomore Kara Copeland stand as the last defensive line behind an ever-improving Kent State defense. Both athletes, who earned back-to-back Defense Player of the Week awards, combined for a 4-1 record the past two weeks.

All four of those wins were conference wins with the one loss coming to No. 9 Ohio State, propelling the Flashes into sole position of second in the conference.

“Both girls have been working hard on consistency,” DeVries said. “It helps that they have one of the best sweepers in the country in (sophomore) Charlotte Muller. She comes up with a lot of big stops and cuts down the opposing team’s shots on goal.”

Against the RedHawks, Copeland recorded the team’s first shutout of the season in their 2-0 win on Friday. In five starts for the Flashes, she has recorded 28 saves for a save percentage of .636.

The victory extended Kent State’s MAC winning streak to four games, putting itself in position to move into first place with victories over Southwest Missouri State and Ohio this weekend.

Markwart was recognized by the MAC primarily for her effort against the then-undefeated Ohio Bobcats in the Flashes’ 3-2 overtime victory. In the win, she saved 11 of her 14 shots on the weekend for her first two wins of the season.

Though Markwart has started the majority of the games, both goalies have seen plenty of playing time, each adding their own individual strengths to the team.

“One of the things that makes Kara (Copeland) different is that she is a little bit more aggressive,” DeVries said. “Linz (Markwart) on the hand has a little more experience and has played real solid for us.”

Helping to tune-up the skills of the two keepers is the new addition to the 2005 coaching staff, assistant Molly Maloney. Maloney, who spent the previous four years leading the Michigan field hockey team to four consecutive Big Ten titles, set numerous goalkeeping records for the Wolverines. She has used her experiences to help Markwart and Copeland develop their talents over the course of the season, an improvement DeVries has noticed throughout the season.

“Molly (Maloney) has been a big asset to not only those girls, but the entire staff,” DeVries said. “She comes from a successful program and as soon as they jump on board, they will get even better.”

When Kent State has its rematch with Ohio this weekend, the defense will attempt to continue its press for another MAC title. Though the starting position may still be up for grabs, the spot between the goal post is sure to be in good hands.

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