Field Hockey wins MAC Championship

The defending Mid-American Conference champion University of Louisville field hockey team overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat Kent State 4-2 in the finals of the MAC Tournament. The Cardinals will travel to Stockton, Calif., to face the University of Pacific in an NCAA play-in game Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. (EST.) The winner of that game will advance to the first round of the NCAA tournament Nov. 12-13.

The game was a midfield battle for the first ten minutes before Kent State's Elizabeth Lahey connected on a free hit from Berber Richen to give the Golden Flashes a 1-0 lead with 24:36 remaining in the first half. Lahey scored an unassisted goal ten minutes later to make it a 2-0 game.

After a timeout, the Cards responded when senior Kimberly Hughes blasted a direct penalty corner shot with assists from Rachel Overton and Jen Kastelic to make the score 2-1 with 12:49 left in the half. The Cardinals tied the game two minutes later when Kastelic redirected a shot by sophomore Jessica Javelet on another penalty corner.

The teams went into halftime tied at 2-2. Each team had five shots, with Louisville holding a 6-1 penalty corner advantage at the break.

With 19:52 remaining in the game the Cardinals capitalized on another corner when freshman Janelle Avila delivered a shot and Kastelic tipped the ball in for her second goal of the game as Louisville took a 3-2 lead.

Avila sealed the game for the Cardinals when she took a pass from Javelet, dodged three KSU defenders into the circle and scored for the 4-2 win. Louisville outshot Kent State 7-3 in the second half, with the Golden Flashes holding a 5-4 edge in corners.

Overall, Louisville had 12 shots to Kent State's four and held a 10-6 penalty corner advantage in the game. The Cardinals improve to 12-9 overall after posting a school-best 8-2 record in the MAC. KSU falls to 11-8 (8-2 MAC).

"We knew Kent State would come out and give us their best game," said 2004 MAC Coach of the Year Pam Bustin. "For the first 20 minutes, we got caught up in their game, but after the timeout, we started working towards the way we wanted the game to go. I credit the team for sticking to our game plan. Once we got into our rhythm, we started building momentum and sustained it to the very end."

The Cards and Golden Flashes tied for the MAC regular season championship, but U of L earned a top seed in the tournament by defeated KSU twice in the season. The MAC Tournament championship marks the second in a row for Louisville, who claimed their first MAC Tournament Championship last season.

"It doesn't really feel like we've won back-to back conference titles, because this is a completely different team from last year," said Bustin. "It's just as exciting this season, but to do it after being the regular season champs is unbelievable."

Louisville's Avila, senior Suzanne Irwin, and sophomores Lauren Groff and Lisa Wasser were named to the MAC All-Tournament team.

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