Dutch freshmen lead way for field hockey

Matt Gottfried

Freshman midfielder/back Melanie Bierens de Haan goes to pass the ball on Sept. 25’s 3-4 loss to Michigan. The Flashes (2-12, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) host Miami at 2 p.m. today and Ball State tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Credit: Jason Hall

As the Mid-American Conference race begins to heat up with the Kent State field hockey team’s recent victories, two freshmen have played significant roles for what was once a struggling squad.

In the Flashes’ (2-12, 2-2 MAC) last three games, which consisted of two crucial wins over the MAC’s top two teams, freshmen midfielders Britt Van Pelt and Melanie Bierens de Haan have combined for eight of the team’s 10 goals.

Van Pelt, who recorded six of those goals, single-handedly out-scored the entire Ohio Bobcat team on Oct. 9. The Bobcats entered that contest as the only unbeaten team in the MAC, but saw their two game lead fall to one as Van Pelt recorded a hat-trick in the 3-2 overtime win.

Through the first 14 games of the season, the top two point leaders for Kent State were that same pair of freshmen, who are both natives of Holland. Van Pelt leads the team with 15 points off of six goals and three assists, while Bierens de Haan is closely behind her with 13 points on five goals.

Juniors Elizabeth Lahey and Berber Rischen were the only other two Flashes to reach double-digits offensively, Lahey has 11 points this season and Rischen has 10.

Bierens de Haan has made the most of every opportunity offensively, scoring five times on only 10 shots on goal. She has also added three assists for a No. 8 overall ranking in the MAC, while Van Pelt’s 15 points has her in a tie for fifth.

For Van Pelt’s effort over the course of the past week, she was awarded MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Junior goalkeeper Linz Markwart also received the MAC Defensive Player of Week award after deflecting 14 shots over the weekend, 11 of which came against the Bobcats.

Van Pelt and Markwart were the first Kent State duo to sweep the conference awards this season.

In the most recent National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, both Ohio and Central Michigan received votes for the country’s top 20 teams.

Kent State defeated both of those two teams last weekend.

This afternoon they will have a rematch with Miami (6-7, 3-2 MAC) after falling 4-0 earlier this season at 2 p.m. The RedHawks also received a number of votes.

The Flashes will also host Ball State (2-9, 1-3 MAC) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Though the No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes halted the Flashes’ winning streak Tuesday afternoon, Van Pelt will look to continue a streak of her own when she attempts to extend upon her three consecutive games with scoring a goal.

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