Field hockey remains winless, falls to No. 8 Michigan 4-3

Matt Gottfried

Kent State coach Helen Knull consoles junior midfielder Berber Rischen after yesterday’s 3-4 loss to University of Michigan.

Credit: Jason Hall

Yesterday afternoon the Kent State field hockey team dropped its ninth straight game, losing to No. 8 Michigan in its first home game of the season.

The Wolverines spoiled the opener with a 4-3 victory as the Flashes failed to maintain an early 2-0 lead.

After suffering a disappointing 4-0 blanking to Miami of Ohio in their Mid-American Conference opener Friday night, the Flashes bounced back focused and determined to knock off the Wolverines, who were coming off a 6-1 loss to Ohio State Friday night, snapping their five-game win streak. Junior midfielder Liz Fettrow started the attack just eight minutes into the contest as she deflected a loose ball over the Michigan goalkeeper to pull ahead 1-0.

Exactly six minutes later, junior midfielder Berber Rischen scored the team’s first consecutive goals this season off yet another deflection. Rischen, who was stationed in that back corner of the box, scooped an arrant shot by a fellow teammate and improved the lead to 2-0. Both goals came off assists by freshman midfielder/back Melanie Bierens de Haan.

“That was the first time we scored consecutive goals all season and that was a goal of ours coming in,” Kent State coach Kerry DeVries said. “We just need to find a way to put our foot down on defense and keep them from getting back into the game.”

Midway through the first half, Michigan increased its intensity and went to a high press, firing of a fury of shots before finally scoring its first goal of the contest with 13 minutes left. After luring Kent State sophomore goalkeeper Kara Copeland out of the box on a 2-on-1 breakaway, the Wolverine forward dumped the ball off to an open teammate down the field for the uncontested goal.

Michigan would proceed to add on two more goals to take a 3-2 advantage with two minutes left in the first, heading into half-time with what appeared to be a one-point lead.

But Kent State wasn’t done just yet.

With time winding down and less than 15 seconds on the clock, the Flashes found themselves with one last opportunity to score after a Wolverine penalty set them up with a corner shot. Kent State’s initial shot would carom off the goal post, bouncing back into the field of play where junior forward Elizabeth Lahey finished off the game-tying goal with six seconds left.

Michigan out-shot the Flashes 13-8 in the opening stanza, but thanks in large part to the play of Copeland, the Kent State defense managed to keep the score close. Copeland, who made her first start of the season, saved four shots in the first half alone.

The Wolverines stormed out of the half with tremendous offensive pressure once again, setting themselves up for back-to-back penalty corner opportunities less than two minutes into the second frame. In both attempts Michigan failed to convert, but eventually capitalized on another penalty opportunity with 11 minutes left to seal the 4-3 win.

Penalty corner kicks played an important role in both team’s offensive scoring attacks as the Wolverines mounted eight such attempts to the Flashes’ seven.

“It’s typical in field hockey that most of the goals scored come off the penalty corner shots,” DeVries said. ” I think we have to evaluate our defense in those situations to make sure we are not as vulnerable in the future. Offensively, it was really nice to see our team execute on a couple of those opportunities.”

For the Flashes, it was their fifth one-point loss of the season to a ranked team, dropping their record to 0-9 on the season and 0-1 in the MAC. Kent State will look to record its first win of the season this Friday against Missouri State in conference action before returning home again on Oct. 2 against Indiana.

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