Ranked opponents a challenge for field hockey this weekend
A win and a loss by a single-goal is behind the Central Michigan field hockey team.
Ahead is a taxing set of games this weekend.
The Chippewas will start the weekend stretch Firday with Delaware – a team that lost two games to ranked opponents in overtime last weekend.
From there, CMU will play ranked opponent No. 22 Maine Saturday and No. 11 Stanford Monday.
“Our bench is going to be important to us, the entire weekend,” head coach Cristy Freese said. “I don’t think I can afford to keep my starters in for 70 minutes, because we’ve got to be able to pace ourselves … The good news is we have players that can come off the bench.”
The Chippewas are 0-1 all-time against the Blue Hens and have a 3-2 record against the Cardinals.
CMU is staying in the confines of Michigan for the games. Its matchups against UD and UM are in Ann Arbor and heading back to Mount Pleasant, the Chippewas will make a stop in East Lansing against SU.
Bailey McKeon was part of a one-two scoring combo with Erin Dye for the first two games of the season, scoring half of the team goals.
But she did not want to talk about her two-goals. She said the team wants to build off the second period of the Villanova game, which CMU outshot VU 15-5, and bring it to the three-game upcoming weekend.
The team, McKeon said, now knows they can comeback from large deficits, which gives them confidence, though, it is not a position they want to be in.
“We fought back, even when we were down — I think that’s a good trait to have,” McKeon said. “But I think we need to not start down. We need to play with more consistency.”
Freese said she will be able to get a better feel for the team after this weekend. Field turf, which they rarely play on, slowed the Chippewas down in the first two games of the season.
The one weakness she did point out was positioning.
“Sometimes, we get caught assuming something’s going to happen,” Freese said. “We’ve got to get in better position earlier, and then we can make the game a lot simpler.”
After a strenuous weekend of games, CMU may rest easy with a bye week the following weekend, when the Central Michigan football team hosts Michigan State, in “The Clash at Kelly/Shorts.”
Freese’s team will return to East Lansing to play in the Michigan State Tournament Sept. 14.
CMU missed an important piece of their team in a 3-2 loss against Villanova Sunday.
They will have that piece, in junior Skylar VanNatta, back this weekend.
“You’re so excited to have a player of Sky’s ability,” head coach Cristy Freese said. “She’s an integral part of the penalty corner defense as the flyer.”
Villanova’s game-winning goal was off of a penalty corner.
VanNatta was out with an undisclosed injury. She was one of four who played all 70 minutes against Radford.
The left back has been a regular on the field. In her first two years with the Chippewas, she was a starter in 34 of 40 games, playing a full game 24 times.
She does not have an offensive statistics to her name but aids a defense that had the second-best goals-against-average in the Mid-American Conference last season.
“The special thing that I think she brings to the game is she’s so competitive,” Freese said. “It’s amazing, in the last two years, how many shots she has blocked because she can get out there so fast.”
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