Flashes prepare for pivotal MAC games

Matt Gottfried

Struggling from 11 straight defeats, team looks to end losing streak against Central Michigan

Junior midfielder Berber Rischen fights for control of the ball on Sept. 25. The Flashes (0-11) face Mid-American Conference rival Central Michigan Friday.

Credit: Beth Rankin

With the losses mounting and time running out, the Kent State field hockey team will head into Friday’s Mid-American Conference contest with Central Michigan in a must-win situation.

After a tough weekend featuring their sixth one-point loss of the year and their 11th straight defeat, the Flashes’ conference hopes are quickly fading away as the season reaches its midway point.

Only eight more MAC games remain on the schedule, but despite the two loses endured earlier this season, the Flashes can remain in contention if they win-out the rest of the season. In the previous two years, Kent State won the MAC with an identical record of 8-2. Currently they stand at 0-11 overall and 0-2 in the MAC, leaving little room for error throughout the final nine games of the season.

On Friday afternoon, the Flashes look to put an end to their losing ways when they host Central Michigan, who enters the contest at 6-5 overall and 3-1 in the conference. The Chippewas will travel to Kent State fresh off a 3-2 win against Ball State, their fourth win in six games.

Last season, Kent State swept Central Michigan in their only two meetings, winning both contests by a score of 2-1. The close score is a common trend between the two MAC rivals, as each of their last eight meetings have resulted in a one-point margin. Four of those contests were also decided in overtime play.

Sunday afternoon will feature another important MAC game, as the Flashes travel to Athens to battle Ohio. The Bobcats’ record stands at 5-6 overall, but a perfect 3-0 record in MAC play has them sitting in first for the conference lead.

Kent State out-scored Ohio 11-1 in their two meetings last season, winning both games with relative ease. The road trip will mark their ninth away game of the season.

Through the first 11 games of the season, the Flashes have been out-scored by their opponents 38-14; however, Kent State goalkeepers sophomore Kara Copeland and junior Linz Markwart have kept the team within grasp of victory as they have a combined 70 saves this season.

Leading the way offensively for the Flashes is freshman midfielder/back Melanie Bierens de Haan, who has a team-high seven points on three goals and an assist. Junior forward Elizabeth Lahey has also recorded a trio of goals, while junior midfielder Berber Rischen and forward Kate Perry each added a pair. Rischen also leads the team in shots on goal with her 51, more than doubling the next closest on the team.

As the two teams head into conference action this weekend, there is one statistical category the team would like to improve upon above all others: the win column. Battling the conference’s top two teams won’t make the feat easy, but then again, the Flashes are no strangers to playing the best.

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