Slumpbuster: KSU ends streak

Matt Gottfried

Junior midfielder Berber Rischen tries to maintain control of the ball as Central Michigan tries to reach in for a turnover. Kent State won 5-3 on Friday.

Credit: Jason Hall

After 11-straight defeats, six one-point losses and numerous unproductive game plans, Kent State field hockey coach Kerry DeVries finally found one that fits her team’s mold. The result: A pair of victories over the Mid-American Conference’s top two teams this past weekend.

The plan, which consisted of changes to practice preparations and shifts in the starting lineup, resulted in the Flashes’ highest offensive output of the season in Friday’s 5-3 victory over Central Michigan and a 3-2 overtime win over Ohio (6-7, 4-1 MAC) yesterday afternoon.

“We changed our system around this week to make it a more attacking system, and I think it really worked,” DeVries said. “We put more of an emphasis on getting more numbers above the ball, that is with more people in front of the ball rather then behind, to create more passing options. It created a lot of opportunities to score.”

“We took three steps backward in order to take a step forward,” DeVries added. “We took two days in which we had chalk talks, breaking strategy down. I’ve kind of come up with the philosophy with such a young team, that it’s not what my staff and I know, it’s about what they know. I think we took for granted that what we know, they also know. They came into the game knowing exactly what they needed to do and played extremely well.”

Against the Bobcats, the Flashes overcame being out-shot 21-13 in addition to a 15-6 disadvantage in penalty corner opportunities. But thanks in large part to the play of junior goalkeeper Linz Markwart and her 11 saves, Kent State was able to keep the score close before freshman Brit van Pelt hit the game winner in overtime.

Van Pelt scooped up a rebound following a breakaway and drove in the winning shot just five minutes into the overtime period. The first two goals both came from junior Charlotte Muller. She was helped with assists from freshman Melanie Bierens De Haan and senior Berber Richsen on penalty corners that resulted in the goals.

Haan and van Pelt turned in solid performances in Kent State’s contest with the Chippewas; both recorded a pair of goals. Haan was the first to strike for the Flashes, scoring with 12:57 remaining in the opening half to tie the game at 1-1. Junior forward Elizabeth Lahey followed with a goal, putting the Flashes up 2-1, but the Chippewas quickly answered less than 40 seconds later to knot the score at 2-2. Then as the three-minute mark approached in the opening half, Haan scored her second goal of the contest off an assist from junior forward Kate Perry to put Kent State up for good at 3-2.

Pelt’s two goals came later in consecutive fashion; she scored both of hers in the final five minutes of the game.

“One thing that I thought really sharpened our attack was putting Haan as like a deep-center forward,” DeVries said. “She played offensive midfielder, as well as Van Pelt, and they both were able to attack a lot for us. I’m very excited with the way they were able to force the penalty corners.”

In those corners, the Flashes held a 9-7 advantage, including a 5-1 lead through the first 20 minutes of the game. Kent State also out-shot its opponents 22-13.

“We’re growing every day, hopefully we will continue growing after this game,” DeVries said. “I don’t think we played an ‘A’ game against Central Michigan, but we played an improved game and the result was obviously better.”

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