‘It’s so different’: Field hockey heads into MAC with rookie roster

James Goddard, Reporter

Kent State’s field hockey team is still searching for an identity as the Flashes head into their Mid-American Conference opener Sunday.

Kent State, who tied for the regular season championship with Miami last year, has gone 2-4 in non-conference play. In the MAC preseason poll, league coaches picked the Flashes to finish second.

The team is replacing 11 players from the squad that went 12-6 last season and was ranked 23rd nationally. The Flashes have nine freshmen on the roster.

“It’s so different, and there are so many new people,” coach Kyle DeSandes-Moyer said. “Even returners are stepping into different roles. It’s essentially an entirely different team with a very different identity. There’s a lot to learn with having such a young team. We’ve really been focusing on growth within this group of players.”

KSU lost to Hofstra and Maine in a three-team event at Maine last weekend.

“I wish that this weekend had gone more positively,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We’re trying to play our style of hockey, which is to pass the ball, support the ball and play fast and forward.”

Kent State scored the first goal of Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Hofstra when junior Alex Sacker converted a penalty corner with assists from freshman Iris Bekker and junior Danielle Hamm. Until then, the Flashes had four shots on goal; Hofstra had seven.

“Hofstra just came out, ready to go,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “The majority of that first half was Hofstra’s game. We started very slowly. That’s something we’ve talked a lot about — how we can be more ready to go from the jump.”

Hofstra tied the game with five minutes to go, then won on a goal two minutes into the second overtime.

On Sunday, the Flashes dropped a 3-1 decision to Maine.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We’ve played them every season since 2018.”

The Black Bears had a 3-0 lead until KSU freshman Maia Sarrabayrouse started a penalty corner with a pass to junior Victoria Tinghitella, who passed to freshman Patricia Strunk. Strunk passed the ball back to Sarrabayrouse, who was 20 feet to the right of the goal. Sarrabayrouse fired the ball over the sliding goalie into the net. 

The goal was the only one of 10 penalty corners Kent State converted in Sunday’s game. Nine of the attempts came in the second half. Maine had only three penalty-corner attempts.

“That’s something our team needs to reflect on,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “It’s attention to detail. There has to be intention and focus.

“We scored two goals in penalty corners this weekend. Given the amount of opportunity we had, we could have had that number higher.”

DeSandes-Moyer said that otherwise, the team’s offense performed well in the second half.

“I was happy to see that our team didn’t quit, and they kept fighting until the very last minute,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We pretty much controlled the end of the third quarter and the whole fourth quarter.” 

The Flashes play MAC opponent Appalachian State at noon Sept. 18 at Murphy-Wellis Field. Appalachian State is 3-2 this season. 

“We have a lot of work to do this week in preparation,” Desandes-Moyer said. “I know my team, and they can definitely take it up a notch when it comes to conference play.”

James Goddard is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]