From winless to MAC No. 1

Matt Gottfried

Sophomore Caitlin MacKenzie passes the ball in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Ohio University. The Flashes moved past Ohio into first place in the MAC with the win.

Credit: Steve Schirra


They can either make or break a season.

With two significant wins this weekend over Ohio and Southwest Missouri State, the Kent State field hockey team is learning first hand that a late winning streak can more than make up for even the worst of losing streaks.

The Flashes (6-12, 6-1) overcame a scoreless first half to defeat the Bobcats (8-9, 6-3), 1-0, and take over sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference yesterday afternoon. The victory extended their MAC winning streak to six games, a complete reversal from the 0-11 losing streak that began the season.

“Even when we started the season 0-11, I knew this team had the ability to become very good,” Kent State coach Kerry DeVries said. “We are starting to play together and, beginning to understand each other’s moves and tendencies on the field. We are finally starting to get our chemistry on the field and I believe that this team can really go far.”

Yesterday, the two MAC rivals were held to under 15 shots in the game due to a strong defensive effort by both sides, resulting in only two saves from each goalkeeper.

It wasn’t until junior forward Liz Fettrow’s goal with 8:51 left in the game that the scoreless stretch was finally brought to an end.

“Both teams were trying to figure each other out and playing a little conservative in terms of taking risks forward,” DeVries said. “I was very impressed with both teams’ passing combinations. I think it was the best game of hockey played at this facility this year in regards to clean, well-played hockey.”

Much like in their previous victory over Ohio, the Flashes capitalized off penalty corners to record their lone goal of the game.

“(Ohio coach) Neil Macmillan is very smart,” said DeVries. ” He watches as much tape as I do and we tried some corners early on and I think he had seen them before. The one we ended up scoring on is one that we just created this weekend.”

Senior back Carrie Rupp, as well as juniors Charlotte Muller and Berber Rischen, led a dominant defensive attack for Kent State. In the last home game of her career, Rupp couldn’t have asked for a better way to end her season at Kent State then with a win over rival Ohio.

“Playing my last game here at Kent is sad. It was a very nostalgic moment,” Rupp said. “Playing at home is always so special because the fans and my family are here. My parents, who live six hours away, always come to all my home games. There is nothing better then winning my last home game to take over first place in the conference in front of all my friends and family.”

On Saturday, Kent State took on Southwest Missouri State. In the Flashes’ previous match with the Bears, their offense ran straight into a wall for a 1-0 overtime defeat.

Saturday afternoon, they broke right through it.

Southwest Missouri State’s sophomore goalkeeper Kimberly Kinsella recorded 40 saves against Kent State on Sept. 30, pacing the way for a league high 171 saves.

Yet the Flashes’ offense finally broke through the talented keeper in the rematch, scoring four times for a 4-2 victory.

Freshman midfielder Melanie Bierens de Haan made the initial strike early in the opening half, scoring seven minutes into the contest for a 1-0 lead.

Both junior forward Elizabeth Lahey and Fettrow each added a goal of their own for a comfortable 3-0 lead. Fettrow then went on to add another goal late in the second half, putting the game out of reach.

Despite the losing streak endured earlier this season, the team refused to believe its conference hopes were gone.

Rupp, the Flashes’ lone senior, realized that a run at the MAC title would only require a streak of a different variety once conference play opened up.

“I had no doubt that we would finish at the top where we belong, even after the slow start,” Rupp said. “From day one we made a goal to win the MAC and even when we were 0-11, that goal was not out of reach. I was fully confident we would be in this exact position.”

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

TEAM MAC Overall
Kent State 6-2 6-12
Ohio 6-3 8-9
Miami 5-4 8-9
Central Mich. 4-4 7-10
Missouri State 2-7 3-14
Ball State 2-6 3-12