Successful shootout keeps field hockey in first place heading into final regular-season MAC battle

James Goddard, Reporter

A shootout is nerve-wracking, field hockey coach Kyle DeSandes-Moyer said.

But it’s a challenge her team was ready for Sunday.

“We practice shoot outs every practice,” she said. “We felt very prepared. Whoever’s been most successful in practice and has the best executive get to enter the shootout.”

Kent State was beating Longwood 2-0 at the end of the third period. By the end of the fourth, the score was tied 2-2. And it stayed tied after two overtimes.

KSU’s junior Katie Wuerstle and senior Sydney Washburn scored the first two of four goals of the shootout. Junior Danielle Hamm missed the third for a 2-2 tie.

As Longwood missed its fourth goal, junior Jenna McCrudden stepped into the ring and scored Kent State’s fourth goal.

The Flashes defeated the Lancers 3-2.

“We’ve had a pretty good rivalry the past few years,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “They’ve been pretty strong and they’re always a tricky team to play. ”

Sunday, KSU lost to Virginia 3-0.

KSU is tied with Miami for first in the Mid-American Conference at 5-1. Longwood is second to last at 1-5.

DeSandes-Moyer said her team’s strategy was to start off strong against the Lancers.

“Our focus was to set the tone,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We wanted to play our game for the full 60 minutes and be urgent in defense transition.”

The Flashes outshot Longwood 26-9 and led 2-0 midway through the second half.

“Controlling the tempo, controlling the game, and valuing possession is key to that,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “We want to make sure we take care of the ball offensively.”

The Lancers came back in the fourth quarter with one goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter then another goal five minutes later.

Kent State’s sophomore goalie Cecile van Eijck totaled seven saves.

“Cecile is obviously extremely strong in the cage,” Kyle DeSandes-Moyer said. “She’s a very dynamic keeper.”

According to DeSandes-Moyer, van Eijck was an asset in Sunday’s game against No. 7 Virginia.

The Cavaliers have made 35 goals this season and allowed 21. Kent State has earned 28 and allowed 39.

Sunday, the second-year goalie blocked nine of Virginia’s 12 shots made on goal.

“She makes a lot of really incredible plays on the ball,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “Going into a game like that, she’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

Virginia first scored within three minutes of the first quarter. The team scored again four minutes later and earned its final goal in the second quarter. The score was 3-0 by the half.

No team scored in the third or fourth quarters.

“I’m proud of the effort that our team was able to put out for the second half,” she said. “We really played a good second half of hockey. It was a very even match.”

DeSandes-Moyer focused on the strengths her team showed throughout the battle.

“They had the ability to implement some feedback at halftime and come out a bit more unified in the second half,” she said. “We also pressed in the second half. We made some adjustments and it was really well executed.”

The Flashes face Bellarmine (4-13 overall, 2-4 MAC) in their last MAC game of the season at 3 p.m. Oct. 29 at Murphy-Mellis Field. They play at Michigan State, 8-8 overall, at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The top four teams in the conference qualify for the MAC tournament Nov. 4-5.

“The biggest thing that the team learned is that they can not only succeed but also supersede the levels of other teams,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “I hope they take that into the coming weeks and have more confidence.”

“I’m proud of the team. They’re really looking forward to the game on Friday and being able to close out the season on a high note – and hopefully, win a share of the MAC regular-season title.”

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