Kent State Sports Report: Field hockey team earns at least share of regular-season MAC title

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

Kent State's field hockey team (8-8, 4-0 MAC) captured the school's first Mid-American Conference championship of the 2013-14 athletics campaign on Sunday in Kent, taking down rival Miami (8-9, 2-2 MAC) 3-1 to claim at least a share of the regular-season title.

"I'm pleased to come out with a win against a really tough, well-coached Miami team," said Golden Flashes coach Kathleen Wiler. "I think that we have three things that we focused on: our unshakeable belief in ourselves, our grittiness, and that we attack in everything that we do. Today wasn't pretty, but we gritted it out."

Kent State and Miami shared the regular season title in 2012, and the RedHawks defeated the Flashes in last year's MAC Tournament Championship Game.

It was Senior Day for Kent State's four seniors, who hadn't beaten Miami since their freshman year. The day was also a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the program's first MAC championship in 1988, and team members from the 1988, 1991 and 1992 championship teams were recognized at halftime.

Miami was able to take an early lead after scoring four minutes into the game. But Kent State turned things around and took control for the majority of the remaining 66 minutes.

Hannah Faulkner scored off an assist by Rebecca Lee to tie the game at halftime. Kent State then scored the deciding goal at the 59-minute mark on a goal by Madison Thompson, assisted by Sami Surdy.

Julia Hofmann then powered a shot off a corner with 4:30 minutes remaining to give her team a two-goal lead, assisted by Sabrina Binder and Alyssa McFerren.

Kent State travels to Ohio next Saturday to finish out the conference season, needing a win to earn the MAC regular season title outright. It would also mark just the second time in program history that Kent State has recorded an undefeated conference season (the 2000 team went 10-0).

"Every year we're in pursuit of a championship," said Wiler, "and the pursuit still hasn't ended. We'll enjoy the victory today, and we're going to refocus for Ohio this week."

BASKETBALL

Kent State University's Athletic Department tipped off the upcoming basketball season by hosting a Hoops 'n' Halloween event on Saturday.

The evening featured free admission, trick-or-treating through the haunted tunnel and into the teams' locker rooms, a costume contest, skill sessions and a slam-dunk contest featuring players from the Flashes men's hoops squad. Kent State head coaches Rob Senderoff even dressed in costume while previewing the upcoming season for fans on hand along with women's mentor Danielle O'Banion.

Financially, Kent State's spending didn't quite match the likes of national powerhouse Kentucky -- which dished out a mind-boggling $400,000 for its tip-off event. But give the Flashes credit for effort and creativity.

"Our budget for the kickoff event is a few thousand dollars," said KSU Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen. "We spend the majority of our basketball marketing budget on selling tickets and encouraging student attendance."

WOMEN'S SOCCER

Kent State (11-7, 6-4 MAC) split a pair of MAC road games on the weekend, earning a 3-1 victory at Toledo (5-12,-1, 2-7-1) on Sunday after dropping a 2-1 decision at Northern Illinois (5-9-3, 3-4-2) on Friday.

The Flashes tallied their first goal against the Rockets in the 32nd minute on a goal by Jaclyn Dutton, with assists from Stephanie Haugh and Jessacca Gironda. Toledo answered three minutes later to knot the match at 1-1, but Gironda tallied her 12th goal of the year in the 57th minute with assists from Morgan Mah and Madison Helterbran.

Megan Johnson later headed in an insurance tally, with assists from Helterbran and Haugh.

Flashes goalkeeper Stephanie Senn made four saves to earn the win.

On Friday, Allie McBride scored a goal in the 59th minute to lead the Huskies over visiting Kent State.

Gironda scored just a minute into the game after collecting a through ball from Abbie Lawson that was deflected off an NIU defender to give the Flashes an early 1-0 lead, but it didn't hold up.

Cori Frankenberg was able to even the score in the 37th minute when she blasted a shot past Senn from 30 yards out, then Johnson later converted the game-winner.

Kent State will close out their regular season on Thursday at Ohio.

VOLLEYBALL

Kent State (10-13, 4-6 MAC) dropped a pair of MAC road matches on the weekend, both in straight sets.

The Flashes lost to Northern Illinois 25-12, 25-13, 25-18 Saturday evening. Junior Lauren Engleman had a team-high nine kills, while Jenny Buczek had 22 assists.

On Friday the Flashes fell to host Western Michigan 25-20, 25-16, 25-20. Senior Hannah Herc had 15 digs, while junior Liz Reikow and sophomore Bridget Wilhelm had seven kills each.

Reikow was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week after totaling 25 kills with a .423 attack percentage in two matches last week. She entered last weekend ranked 10th in the conference with a .328 attack percentage and as KSU's second-leading attacker at 2.77 kills per set.

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