DeVries to refocus team, launch new field in last season

Tanya McAnally tries to get past Caitlin MacKenzie at practice last fall.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Something has been amiss with the field hockey team for the last two years.

Since head coach Kerry DeVries took over the program nine years ago, the Flashes have made five NCAA Tournament appearances, captured four Mid-American Conference Tournament Championships, earned four MAC regular season championships and compiled an 118-56 record.

Even though two of the Flashes regular season championships have come in the last two years, DeVries said she believes it has been a lack of attention to detail that has held her team back from going further recently.

“Last year we came close in too many matches,” DeVries said. “Coming close doesn’t win championships. We have to be more detail-orientated in order for these women to carry themselves to the final moments of a game and win.”

The Flashes ended their season last year by failing to hold onto a 2-0 lead against Louisville in the MAC Tournament Championship game, losing 4-2.

Something else will be amiss after this season. This season will be the last for DeVries. She will follow her husband, who works for Fifth Third Bank, on a European assignment for three years.

“It was a very hard decision and a decision where we thought about family first,” DeVries said.

Even when DeVries moves on from Kent State, she said she will continue to make sure the standard she set isn’t forgotten.

“I will make it perfectly clear that whoever is the coach at Kent State after me sets a standard to be the best in the country,” DeVries said.

This season the Flashes will have a new home. A brand new facility with an estimated cost of $1.1 million is still being built behind Dix Stadium, where the Flashes played previously. The change allowed the football team to take out the old Astroturf and and replace it with FieldTurf.

Opening weekend for the new field was set to take place against Wake Forest and Michigan State Sept. 16 and 18. Due to construction time constraints, those games have been rescheduled as away games at Winston-Salem, N.C. The home opener will now take place Sept. 25 against Michigan.

While in football the idea of Kent State going head-to-head with the top teams in the NCAA for a prolonged period of time may seem a little unrealistic, field hockey is another story.

Although the Flashes have yet to earn a NCAA Tournament victory, their five appearances suggest that they have been able to compete at the top level. In 2002, Kent State finished the season ranked seventh in the nation.

“In the sport of field hockey with the funding we have, there is no excuse why we cannot play with anyone in the nation,” DeVries said.

This year, the Flashes will try to make a return to the nations elite with a loaded junior class. Kent State’s roster features six juniors, all of whom started most of the Flashes games last year.

The class is led by returning co-MAC Player of the Year Berber Rischen. She was the second highest scorer on the team with 22 points. Teammates Liz Fettrow, Kate Perry and Elizabeth Lahey totaled 18 goals and 44 points. Meanwhile, redshirt junior netminder Linz Markwart led the way defensively last season with 2.13 goals against average and three shutouts.

“This junior class is outstanding if they choose to play as one,” DeVries said.

Although DeVries wasn’t sure how they’d fit into the team by the regular season, she said freshmen Britt van Pelt, Melanie Bierens de Haan and Natalie Barrett should make an immediate impact on the team.

Contact editor Matt Peters at [email protected].