Flashes go worst to first?

Matt Gottfried

Following a 0-11 start, field hockey has a chance to lead the MAC

Kent State senior Carrie Rupp attempts to steal the ball from a Miami player on Oct. 14. The Flashes can move into first place with wins over Southwest Missouri State, tomorrow at 11 a.m., and Ohio, on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Credit: Jason Hall

Ohio 5-2 7-8
Kent State 4-2 4-11
Miami 4-3 7-8
Central 3-3 6-9
Missouri State 2-4 3-11
Ball State 1-5 2-11

Only four games remain on the schedule for the Kent State field hockey team, all of which possess significant Mid-American Conference implications. For Flashes’ coach Kerry DeVries, she couldn’t ask for anything more.

After a 0-11 start to the season, the rejuvenated Flashes have battled through much adversity to put themselves in a position where they control their own destiny. Heading into this weekend’s MAC contests with Southwest Missouri State (3-11, 2-4) and Ohio (7-8, 5-2), Kent State currently stands at second place in the conference. With a sweep against those two conference foes, the Flashes would propel themselves into sole position of first.

Kent State enters Saturday’s match-up with Missouri State, set to start at 11 a.m., riding a four-game conference winning streak after starting MAC play 0-2. The Bears defeated the Flashes 1-0 earlier this season in double overtime, despite being out-shot 40-16. The reason for the defeat: Missouri State sophomore goalkeeper Kimberly Kinsella.

“They have a very good keeper,” DeVries said. “They have a keeper who is athletic, has good reaction and who plays far out of the cage. We need to figure out what corners we want to use so we can decide how we are going to get around her. She is an extremely good goalkeeper.”

Kinsella leads the MAC in saves on the season with 171, 60 more than the next closest goalkeeper. In 12 games this season, she has averaged just over 14 saves a game, more than double the next closest average.

“When we played them earlier this season at their place, we had to play on Astro-grass,” DeVries explained. “The slow field surface caused us to change our game plan a little, but playing at home this time should allow us to play our game.

“We also have to look out for their breakaways, because they like to push the ball. And of course we have to be ready for this keeper.”

Much like Missouri State, it will take the restraint of another MAC standout player in order to emerge victorious against Ohio. The Flashes will attempt to slow down senior forward Lindsay Rothenberger, one the Bobcat’s biggest offensive threats, on Sunday.

“We need to be able to stop Rothenberger,” DeVries said. “We also need to play better possession hockey. Last time we didn’t play very good hockey against Ohio, we just played corners really well. If we play better possession hockey and keep the ball out of her hands, we should put ourselves in good position to win.”

On Oct. 9, the Flashes defeated Ohio 3-2 in overtime, thanks in large part to the play of freshman midfielder Britt Van Pelt. Van Pelt scored all three of the team’s goals, with two of those coming off assists from sophomore forward Charlotte Muller.

“She is much more comfortable in the American style of hockey, it just took a while for her to adjust,” DeVries said. “Now that she has become more comfortable, her game has really taken off.”

Van Pelt has scored seven goals during the team’s four-game conference winning streak. Through Kent State’s previous 11 games before her breakout game against Central Michigan where she scored two goals, Van Pelt had recorded just one goal.

Her turn around is just a small example of how far the team has come from the beginning of the season, a transformation the squad would like to continue this weekend when they host their conference rivals.

The two home games set for this weekend will be the last for the Kent State field hockey team. A dedication of their new complex will be held prior to the game against Ohio on Sunday. Game time is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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