The field hockey team can win its third Mid-American Conference regular season championship in its history by beating Kent State at noon on Saturday at the Field Hockey Complex.
Central Michigan head coach Cristy Freese, being true to form, still treated the week of practice no different than any other though.
“It’s the same as we’ve approached every week so far,” Freese said. “We’ve talked a lot about just staying in the moment.”
The Chippewas also host No. 14 Michigan at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Central Michigan is tied for first in the MAC with KSU and Miami (Ohio), each 3-1 in the conference.
“It’s really exciting,” senior Erin Dye said. “There was a point in the season we didn’t think we would be in this position, and we’re glad that we were able to pick it up in the second half of the season.”
The last time the Golden Flashes visited Mount Pleasant in 2011, they served the Chippewas an excruciating loss.
CMU was up 3-1 with less than eight minutes left in the game, only to lose in double overtime.
It will be Dye’s last chance to get a win against KSU in her career, if the teams do not meet in the conference tournament.
“It’s hard to shut them down, and we finally thought we did it,” she said. “We got complacent with the 3-1 score, and they came back and beat us. It’s something that embarrassed us last year a little bit at home, and it’s something we would like to get some revenge on this year.”
Julia Hofmann is one of those KSU players difficult to shut down. She has scored 14 goals this season.
CMU will know shortly before the game starts Saturday if it is playing for an outright conference championship or sharing it with the Redhawks, which host Ohio at 10:30 a.m.
The last MAC regular season championship the Chippewas won in 2002 was shared with Louisville.
Ten years later, Freese felt so confident in CMU, she placed them No. 1 on her ballot for the MAC preseason coaches’ poll.
“You always go into your season with confidence in your team,” she said. “I thought that they’ve had playing experience; they’ve had playing experience together and I would hope that would help us be a better team.”
Freese said she is not going to think about the Wolverines until after the team’s last conference game of the season.
Michigan is led by Rachel Mack, who ranks seventh in the nation in points per game with 17 goals and seven assists.
The Chippewas will be aided by the Big Ten Network’s extensive coverage of Big Ten sports.
Freese said she has taped a number of the field hockey games on the cable channel and plans to record Michigan’s game against Iowa Friday.
“You not only get the coverage, you get really nice slow replays of the penalty corners,” Freese said. “The other thing is I’ve actually learned a lot from the commentators. They will tell me the strengths and weaknesses of different players.”