COLUMN: Soccer, field hockey teams to prepare MAC attack

Joey Simon

As the football team slowly slips into what looks like another dismal season, other Kent State sports teams – ones that produce winning seasons and were picked to win Mid-American Conference Championships – are struggling as well.

Both the field hockey team and the soccer team have had early-season troubles. The soccer team is 4-5 overall and 1-1 in the MAC, while the field hockey team is 0-9 overall and 0-1 in the MAC.

However, their struggles won’t last and these teams will soon begin to show their true colors.

I know what you’re thinking: Another bold prediction from a guy who thought the Flashes’ football team was going to compete for a title this season. OK, so maybe I got a bit ahead of myself, and, well, just plain screwed that one up. So what?

These teams have something the football team doesn’t: a history of winning.

The Kent State field hockey team has started the season with five one-goal losses and is going through one of the toughest stretches in the program’s history. It won’t last.

Kent State coach Kerry DeVries annually sets up a rigorous non-conference schedule for a few reasons. She knows she’s put together one of the top programs in the country and that the Flashes can play with anyone – evident by their fourth one-goal defeat to No. 6 Michigan State two weekends ago. Also, DeVries wants her team ready for the MAC schedule and playing at their peak when that time comes. You can’t go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the country without playing at a high level.

In DeVries’ eight seasons as head coach of Kent State, she has won four regular season MAC championships, four MAC tournament titles and at one point had advanced to five straight NCAA tournaments (1998-2002). There’s no way she’s going to let her legacy be tarnished in her final season at the helm of the Flashes.

While the Flashes are winless, keep in mind they’ve faced the No.1, No. 6 and No. 9 teams in the country so far and lost by one goal to two of those teams, which were the No. 6 Michigan State squad and No. 9 Michigan. They’ve also had just one home game, last weekend’s 4-3 loss to Michigan.

The team knows that they are better than their record indicates, and with MAC Co-Player of the Year Berber Rischen returning to form, it should soon become another year of winning for the Flashes.

The soccer team is a bit different. They’ve already had what looks to be their turn-around game.

The Flashes responded to last Friday’s MAC-opening loss to Ball State with a convincing 4-1 win over Miami of Ohio, a team they had not beaten since 1998.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro has a much more experienced group than he did a year ago when the Flashes won their second MAC crown in five years since Marinaro has been here. He has resurrected the program and has an extremely talented group to work with this year.

The Flashes lost just one senior from 2004, and returns the MAC Newcomer of the Year in Kimberly Dimitroff and six seniors. While it’s been a tale of two teams thus far into the season as the Flashes have played extremely well at time and poorly during others, they seem to be hitting stride at just the right time.

Marinaro is a firm believer in playing as a team and will not accept anything less. This team is molding itself together and forming into a champion-caliber team just like last year’s. It took the 2004 Flashes a while to get going as well – the Flashes made a lead from fourth to first in the final weekend of the season.

So, while things may look a bit disappointing at this juncture of the year for the Flashes’ athletic programs, these teams will bounce back and contend.

And as for the football team?

No comment.

Contact sports editor Joey Simon at [email protected].