The Kent State field hockey team (7-8, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) remained perfect in MAC play on Saturday, riding a hot start to a 5-2 victory over host Ball State (5-9, 0-3).
"I'm pleased to come out with a road win in conference play," said KSU coach Kathlee Wiler. "I was happy that the little things we've been working on showed up in that first half."
Just seven minutes into the game Sabrina Binder netted a goal off a rebound to get the Golden Flashes on the board with an assist by Julia Hofmann, who then scored off a penalty corner seven minutes later with an assist from Binder.
Melanie Kahn added a goal to push the lead to 3-0 at halftime, then Alyssa McFerren and Missy Ramsey added second-half goals to close out the victory.
The Flashes will try to stay undefeated in conference play when they host Miami on Senior Day Sunday, when they will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first MAC championship in 1988.
Kent State's recent string of success was halted by a pair of MAC losses over the weekend.
The Flashes (10-11, 4-4 MAC) fell to Toledo 3-1 (17-25, 27-25, 23-25, 18-25) Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. They managed to record more kills than the Rockets, 53-51, but had 33 errors compared to 20 by Toledo.
Sophomore Bridget Wilhelm led the way with 13 kills, while sophomore Kelly Hutchison and junior Liz Reikow each had 12. Senior Hannah Herc led the defense with a match-high 25 digs, while senior Aleksandra Nowak had 48 assists.
On Friday Kent State fell to MAC West leader Ball State (19-4, 7-1) at the M.A.C. Center, 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-27, 10-25)
Nowak recorded the 3,000th assist of her Kent State career during the first set, becoming just the fourth player in program history to reach the milestone. Nowak finished the match with 38 assists, seven digs, four kills and four total blocks.
Reikow led the attack with a team-best 13 kills and hit .500, while Wilhelm added 11 kills. Herc led the Flashes with 22 digs.
Following a pair of standout performances in last week, sophomore opposite Kelly Hutchison was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week.
Hutchison led the Flashes to victories over No. 18 Ohio and Central Michigan, piling up 5.71 points and 4.71 kills per set while hitting .329, and adding two digs and one block per set on defense.
In the final home game of the regular season, Kent State (10-6, 5-3 MAC) fell 2-0 to visiting Eastern Michigan (9-6-1, 6-2) on Sunday at Zoeller Field.
After a scoreless first half where each team tallied seven shots, including two on goal, the Eagles found the back of the net just 12 minutes into the second period.
Bianca Rossi accepted a pass from Cara Cutaia and shot it high and into the left corner past goalkeeper Stephanie Senn.
Then in the 80th minute, a Kent State foul in the box resulted in not only a penalty kick for EMU, but also a red card for Kent State that had the team competing a player down for the remainder of the game. Eastern Michigan's Angela Vultaggio blasted a shot that Senn made a diving save to stop, but Vultaggio collected the rebound and put it in to increase the Eagles' lead to 2-0.
Kent State ended the game with a 19-15 advantage in shots, but the Eagles won the corner kick battle, 7-3.
On Friday, freshman Jenna Hellstrom scored just 1:22 into overtime to lead Kent State to a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Western Michigan (7-4-3, 5-1-1) at Zoeller Field.
The Broncos jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but a goal by senior defender Morgan Mah off a corner kick in the 65th minute sparked the KSU offense. Calli Rinicella and Abbie Lawson were credited with assists.
Then, just four minutes before the end of regulation, junior Stephanie Haugh evened the score after she knocked in a blocked shot
Hellstrom then quickly put in a corner kick to tally her fourth goal of the year and earn the win for her team.
Senior forward Jessacca Gironda was named MAC Player of the Week after scoring three goals last weekend to lead Kent State to victories over Buffalo and Akron. She scored every goal in both matches.
Gironda leads Kent State in scoring with 24 points on 10 goals (including 5 game-winners) and four assists. She currently ranks third in Kent State history in career goals (27) and points (69).
The Flashes men's and women's teams will make at least six appearances as part of the MAC's new deal with Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, in addition to one game that will be aired live on ESPN networks.
A nationally televised ESPN audience will watch Kent State's men take on Temple on Monday, Nov. 11, in a contest that will serve as the opener for ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on ESPNU, and will mark the Flashes' fourth consecutive year participating in the event.
The KSU men will then play at Seton Hall on Nov. 13, and that matchup will be televised on Fox Sports 2.
Kent State's five men's matchups on the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel include:
- Wednesday, Jan. 8: Ohio @ Kent State, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 26: Kent State @ Toledo, 6 p.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 29: Northern Illinois @ Kent State, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 15: Central Michigan @ Kent State, 6 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 22: Buffalo @ Kent State, noon
On the women's side, Kent State is slated for a TWC appearance on Feb. 6 at Eastern Michigan.
Kent State competed at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational on Saturday afternoon hosted at Indiana State. The men raced to a seventh-place finish out of the 20 teams led by junior Matt Kahl, who crossed the finish line in 11th place out of 135 participants with a time of 25:13.14.
The women's squad placed 32nd overall led by sophomore Rachel Slingluff (94th, 22:40.95).
Kent State closed its fall schedule with a 2-over-par 290 in the final round of the U.S. Collegiate Championship to finish in 13th place in the 15-team event held at the Golf Club of Georgia.
The 19th-ranked Golden Flashes shot 17-over-par (296-295-290-881)over the tournament's three rounds. No. 5 Oklahoma won the tournament at 15-under par, beating tournament host and No. 2-ranked Georgia Tech.
"We played quite a bit better today than we did in the first two rounds," said Kent State head coach Herb Page. "We played the par-3's fabulously. And unlike us, we didn't play the par-5's well or we would have had a great score. This wasn't a great week for us, but I'm proud that our kids don't quit."
Senior Kyle Kmiecik led the way for Kent State, shooting a 1-under-par 71. He birdied the 584-yard 18th hole to match his opening-round 71 and post his team's highest finish for the week in a tie for 23rd place at even-par (71-74-71-216).
Fellow senior Corey Conners (72-76-73-221) shot a 1-over-par 73 in the final round to close in a tie for 39th. Senior Taylor Pendrith (76-74-72-222) and sophomore Jake Troyer (77-71-74-222) tied for 44th at 6-over for the weekend. Pendrith shot an even-par 72 in the final round while Troyer carded a 74.
Freshman Josh Whalen (82-78-78-238) tied for 77th.
Kent State returns to action March 3-4 when it travels to Wilmington, N.C. for the Davidson College Invitational.
"We'll get off the turf after this one," said Page. "We'll get up and we'll have a lot of things to work on over the winter. Our schedule is only 40-percent done. If I look back over the five tournaments we played, I'd give us a pretty good grade. A good, solid B with room to improve."