The field hockey team forced overtime in both games this weekend at the Field Hockey Complex by stopping the opposing offense on a penalty corner in the closing seconds.
Central Michigan capitalized against Ohio, beating the Bobcats 2-1 Friday, but lost 2-1 to No. 20 Michigan State Sunday.
“In overtime, you’re exhausted. You’ve already played 70 minutes of a hard game,” junior Skylar VanNatta. “It’s just kind of who wants it more, and seven on seven, you know you have the girl you’re marking up, so it’s a lot more running; it’s a lot more intense.”
Spartan Abby Barker scored the game-winning goal in a one-on-one opportunity with senior goalkeeper Anastasia Netto, 1:32 after regulation had ended.
The Chippewas had a similar scoring opportunity in each half, with only the goalie standing between them and a goal, and failed on both chances.
“From the sideline, it looks like you should be able to make (those shots),” head coach Cristy Freese said. “We made some good decisions; we just have to finish a little stronger. Sometimes we’re leaning the wrong way, and we just need to make sure our momentum is going toward the goal.”
Barker also had the first goal of the game off a rebound on the left side in the 29th minute. She has accounted for 16 of the 31 goals the Spartans have scored this season.
VanNatta tied the game in the last minute of the first half, finding her way through a scrum in front of the net to push the ball, which bounced off the post and into the net.
“We’ve talked a lot about how there are goals to be scored on the opposite post,” Freese said. “The best thing about that goal was (VanNatta) saw that post was open, and she went into that space and finished.”
The goal was one of only a few scoring chances. The game was played between the 25-yard lines, and it was difficult for either team to find holes in the opposing defense.
“MSU did a great job of keeping the ball out of the circle,” VanNatta said. “We tried a lot of times to hit it in, and they had some great defenders who completely stopped the ball.”
Netto went down after allowing the first goal of the game as a result of the ball hitting her in the throat, Freese said.
She showed she was fine by making two-straight kick saves in the 42nd minute and saving 80 percent of the shots on goal for the game, 15.5 percent above her season average.
It was CMU’s fifth overtime game this season. The team is 2-3 in extra minutes after losing all three overtime games last season.
CMU plays Kent State for at least a share of the MAC championship Saturday at the Field Hockey Complex. The team also hosts No. 15 Michigan Sunday.
The field hockey players signaled the importance of their game against Ohio Friday at the Field Hockey Complex by cheering louder than they ever have at home this season when the team tallied the first goal of the game.
When CMU scored its last to win 2-1 in overtime, they showed even more emotion, erupting with joy and nearly circling the field singing the school’s fights song.
“I’m just really excited we were able to pull off the win,” sophomore Jordyn Brengosz said. “We knew coming in this was going to be a huge game, and we needed this win to be in really good position in the (Mid-American Conference).”
The Chippewas and Bobcats were two of four teams tied for first in the MAC with a 2-1 record entering the day.
Brengosz did the honors of getting the Chippewas one step closer to their first conference championship in 10 years, swatting a shot into the net in the 76th minute.
“I don’t really get many chances to score on defense,” she said. “I knew, with the play we had, there was a good chance I would get the ball, so I was just ready.”