Field hockey’s senior-day victory turns emotional

James Goddard, Reporter

Words could not describe how field hockey coach Kyle DeSandes-Moyer felt after her team’s senior day victory against Central Michigan.

“I’ll get choked up,” she said. “I’m very proud of them. They’ve been through so much together and have remained steadfast and focused on their goals.”

Maria Cambra-Soler, Sydney Washburn, Larissa Balachick and Caitlin Holland were recognized for their time in the program Sunday. They were all freshmen in DeSandes-Moyer’s first full year as head coach.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “I’ve been able to witness them grow on and off the field as women and leaders. They’ve really become incredible women, and we’re so honored and grateful to have them as part of our program.”

The Flashes defeated the Chippewas 5-0 Sunday. They remain undefeated in the Mid-American Conference 4-0 and 6-5 overall.

KSU is now first in the conference. Miami (3-1 MAC, 7-6 overall) moved down to second after losing to Longwood Friday.

Senior back Maria Cambra-Soler, whose family could not make it to last season’s senior day for her sister Helena due to the COVID-19 pandemic, felt that scoring in front of her family was surreal.

“I still can’t believe they’re here,” Cambra-Soler said. “I was playing for my teammates and my other seniors but also for my family because they haven’t seen me play in person in three or four years.”

Senior forward Sydney Washburn scored the first goal of the game off a deflection less than three minutes into the first period. She was also focused on her family.

“It felt amazing,” Washburn said, “especially since my grandparents were here, and they haven’t had a chance to see me play.”

Washburn’s first goal kickstarted the Flashes strongest quarter yet.

DeSandes-Moyer attributed this early start to the atmosphere at Murphy-Mellis field.

“The whole environment and excitement of senior day propelled them to do that today,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “A lot of the team members had that willingness to go out and play for them and make sure we make a statement early.”

Junior back Danielle Hamm and sophomore midfielder Agustina Florio each scored a goal in the first half. The Flashes led Central Michigan 3-0 at the half.

Freshman Patricia Struck scored the final goal of the game leading the flashes to a shut out victory over Central Michigan.

“We were locked in, focused, and hungry for attack throughout the whole game,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We valued possession, and we took care of the ball. That allowed us to generate offense and take shots.”

KSU’s team has consistently outshot its opponent in almost every game of the season. The Flashes outshot the Chippewas 25-3 Sunday.

“They really prepare mentally going into MAC games,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “Knowing that we have to be disciplined, and these games are the most important part of our season, inherently leads to us shooting them.”

DeSandes-Moyer has been working on building her team’s ability to generate attack power.

“It’s being competitive in practice – making it a focal point,” she said. “We’re doing games and drills and practice where we really push them to score early and then replicate that in the game.”

The fourth-year coach said she is focused on strengthening the team’s defense as it heads into their fifth conference game of the season.

“Miami is quite strong,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “They generate a lot of attack in the style that they play, so we’ll be working on our defense and our recovery defense will be essential.”

The Flashes play at Miami at 2 p.m. Friday and No. 3 Penn State (11-2 overall) at noon Sunday at Murphy-Mellis Field.

“With three MAC games left in the regular season, they’re going to be pretty challenging,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We’ve laid a good foundation going into those games, and I’m excited to see them go against some tough opponents.”

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