After its defense had shut down No. 14 Syracuse for 60 minutes, the Kent State field hockey team turned on the offense in overtime.
With the score tied 1-1 four minutes into the extra period, senior Helena Cambra Soler intercepted a Syracuse pass at midfield and drove toward the net. Inside the circle, she passed between two Syracuse players to sophomore midfielder Jenna McCrudden.
“I was set up well,” McCrudden said. “My teammate made a good pass.”
The 2-1 victory was Kent State’s second in a row against a ranked opponent. On Tuesday, the Flashes beat No. 22 Ohio State 2-1. The KSU record book shows no other season in which the Flashes beat two ranked teams, though opponents’ rankings are listed only in seasons after 2010.
Kent State’s record improves to 3-1 on the season. Syracuse is 2-1.
Both McCrudden and coach Kyle DeSandes-Moyer said the Flashes’ defense made all the difference.
“I don’t think scoring the goals won us the game,” McCrudden said. “Our defense won us the game, and protecting the circle.” (The circle is the area in front of the goal where a player has to be in order to score.)
DeSandes-Moyer said that defense was the key to the game.
“They remained disciplined,” she said. “Not over-running the ball and hacking the inside is something that we were working really hard to achieve.”
The Flashes were on defense most of the game. Syracuse had 16 shots to Kent State’s five and had eight shots on goal to the Flashes’ four.
But the Flashes controlled the ball in overtime, which was played almost entirely in front of the Syracuse goal.
“Honestly, there wasn’t really anything the coaches said,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “The players had a different mindset. They were the ones talking at the time and talking about hanging it up on them.”
“Everything we did in that game was a team effort,” McCrudden said.
KSU goalie Azure Fernsler made seven saves.
“She was amazing for us today and is a very special player,” DeSandes-Moyer said. “She is one of the most hardworking individuals and perhaps had one of the best games of her career.”
Fernsler said a key to the game was Kent State’s resilience after Syracuse scored in the first period.
“The first thing we usually say after [an opponent’s] goal is ‘two minutes,’” Fernsler said. “Come out hard for two minutes and keep fighting."
“We knew this was going to be tough, but we knew that we were a skillful team.”
Junior midfielder Clara Rodriguez Seto tied the game at 7:42 in the third period, taking advantage of confusion between the Syracuse goalie and the defender to roll the ball into the net.
It made for the second straight game when the Flashes came from behind to win.
The Flashes will play their third straight ranked team Friday as they take on No. 4 Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern is 3-0, beating No. 6 Connecticut 4-0, No. 12 Duke 3-0, and No. 21 Miami 6-2. Miami is KSU’s top rival in the Mid-American Conference.
Jacob Hansen is a reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org