The field hockey team returns to the Mid-American Conference this weekend in a logjam with three other teams tied for first in the Mid-American Conference.
Central Michigan plays one of the teams atop the standings in Ohio at 2 p.m. today at the CMU Field Hockey Complex.
The Chippewas also play at home against in-state foe Michigan State at 1 p.m. Sunday.
It will be the team’s first home game in October after five-straight road games. CMU will not leave Mount Pleasant until the MAC tournament in November, as long as the team finishes in the top four in the conference.
Senior Emily Girasole said she wants to be more than tourney-bound and hopes to be celebrating a MAC championship in her last conference game at the CMU Field Hockey Complex.
“We’re tied right now in the MAC, and we’re No. 1,” she said. “I’m just really excited to lay it all out on the field and give it all I’ve got.”
The Bobcats, the defending regular season conference champions, stand in the Chippewas way of earning their first MAC regular season crown since 2002.
Head coach Cristy Freese said she is not taking the approach of having to beat the best to be the best. She continues to give equal attention to each conference game.
“I don’t think our approach to this game is any different than Missouri State,” Freese said. “We had to win that game, too.”
Ohio has the best overall record in the MAC with eight wins and six losses, including a win against No. 15 Wake Forest in a 3-2 double overtime game on Oct. 3.
Taylor Brown leads the Bobcats in goals with 11 and assist with eight.
“She is a key person, whether she’s shooting or passing,” Freese said. “If you ever play her and think she’s going to shoot, then she makes the pass.”
Sunday, CMU will take on No. 20 Michigan State with a 9-7 record.
The Spartans are 3-0 against MAC teams this season, defeating Miami (Ohio), Ohio and Kent State this season.
MSU sophomore Abby Barker leads the Spartans in goals with 14 – half of the total MSU has scored.
Freese knows the coaches well; especially MSU assistant coach Molly Maloney, who was Freese’s graduate assistant.
“It is certainly, from the coach’s standpoint, a friendly rivalry,” Freese sad. “But, at the end of the day, we both want to win, and our players want to win.”