Field hockey opens MAC Tournament today against Kent State
Kent State once again stands in the field hockey team’s way in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at 2:30 p.m. today in Oxford, Ohio.
Central Michigan needed a win against the Golden Flashes Saturday to win its first regular-season Mid-American Conference Championship in 10 years and lost 1-0 in double overtime.
The team plays in the newly formatted MAC tournament that features the top four teams, rather than all six.
“It’s just a whole new season essentially … you just start out fresh, and anyone can win,” junior Bailey McKeon said. “Since we didn’t win the season conference championship, this is our last chance to show that we should be on top.”
CMU is seeded third with a 3-2 conference record. If the Chippewas win today, they play on Saturday in the championship game against the winner of the Miami (Ohio)/Ohio game.
In past years, while the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds had a bye, CMU would have had to play a game on Thursday.
“Overall, we were pretty successful in the first round,” head coach Cristy Freese said. “There’s good and bad about that format. The good thing is your team has already been there and felt the pressure from being in the tournament. The bad thing is you played 70 minutes, and the other team’s fresh.”
The Chippewas have lost nine-straight games to the Golden Flashes, but nothing frustrates Freese more than the last loss.
“I just never look at (streaks) that way,” Freese said. “The last one irritates me in the sense of, certainly, I felt like we could have won, but we didn’t, and you don’t get to do the what-if.”
CMU will look to create offense, after failing to score in last weekend’s games, by making extra passes.
“We need to continue passing,” Freese said. “I watched the game against Kent (State), and I think we carry it too much, at times, in the forward line”
The team is 3-0 when the offense tallies more than two goals this season. McKeon, the team’s second-leading scorer with seven goals, said she sees what the offense does well when CMU scores.
“Everyone, in general, is in the right place at the right time,” McKeon said. “Passes are made correctly; cuts are made to get those opportunities to score.”
The Chippewas allowed two goals last weekend, the fewest of six weekends this season that included a pair of games.
“The nice thing about playing those difficult teams (throughout the season) was it forced us to move our feet,” Freese said. “A lot of times you can get really lazy playing bad teams, and playing Northwestern, playing Indiana and Michigan State, I really think has prepared us.”
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