Story Courtesy of Kent State Media Relations
KENT, Ohio - Kent State scored four unanswered goals on its way to a 4-1 victory in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals Friday afternoon (Nov. 7) at Murphy-Mellis Field. With the win, the Golden Flashes (16-4) advance to Saturday’s championship game, taking on third seeded Ohio, who downed Miami 2-0 in Friday’s second semifinal.
"We stayed true to our game plan," Head Coach Kathleen Schanne said. "We were really organized defensively. We kept the ball moving with two-touch passing and really played Kent State field hockey."
KSU’s 10th straight victory began with an early 1-0 deficit after MAC Player of the Year Samantha Sandham put the Chippewas ahead with her 15th goal of the season. Sandham’s goal came on a corner play, but the Flashes converted a corner play of their own at the 10:49 mark. Debbie Bell blasted the ball into the cage on a pass from Rachel Miller.
"We’ve told the team before, if we just play our game the goals are going to go in," Schanne said of trailing 1-0.
A few minutes after the Flashes’ quick answer, a CMU foul gave Laurie Wilkins room to run on the right side. Wilkins took the ball toward the circle and found Miller in front of the goal for a quick pass and score.
KSU’s 2-1 lead stayed intact until five minutes into the second half when Miller won a ball at midfield and sent a long, lining pass to Bell, who pushed forward and passed left to Nicole Leach. The sophomore forward took advantage of the 2-on-1 and found the right side of the cage.
That same trio (Leach, Bell, Miller) put together the Flashes fourth goal with seven minutes remaining. Bell dribbled across the field from left to right and led Miller with a pass to the right side of the circle. Miller fired a hard shot at the goal that was redirected in by Leach.
Central Michigan had won their last seven games against MAC opponents other than Kent State, who took all three games from the Chippewas this season.
"It’s a fun challenge to matchup against someone who’s won an award and play well against them," Miller said of her midfield matchup with Sandham. "But today was about our team against Central Michigan and getting to the championship game. We’ve taken a step up since last season.From the backfield to the forwards, our passing is better and we’re on executing corners."
Ohio, the two-time defending tournament champions scored a goal in each half against the RedHawks to improve to 3-0 at Murphy-Mellis Field this season. Saturday’s championship game with the Bobcats will begin at 1 p.m. at Murphy-Mellis Field.
"We’ve done a great job of taking it game-by-game," Schanne said of her team’s approach. "We re-focus really well."
Kent State’s only loss in its last 14 games came at the hands of Ohio on Sept. 28. However, the Flashes redeemed themselves in Athens with a 3-0 shutout of the Bobcats on Oct. 10.