ATHENS, Ohio - Central Michigan jumped out to a lead just four minutes into Friday's Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinal, but could not hold off Kent State as it scored four-straight goals for a 4-1 victory.
The loss ends the Chippewas' season at 9-11 overall, while the Golden Flashes (8-12) advance to Saturday's championship match versus No. 1 seed Ohio. The Bobcats defeated No. 5 Miami, 1-0, earlier in the day.
The Chippewas jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just four minutes into the contest on their second penalty corner attempt of the game when sophomore Julianna Makrinos deflected a shot by junior Erin Dye for her sixth goal of the season.
Kent State would come back and tie things up before halftime however, scoring the equalizer on a penalty corner of its own. Alyssa McFerren, who finished the day with three assists, found Julia Hofmann at the 20:17 mark for her sixth goal of the season and a 1-1 tie.
Hofmann struck again nine minutes into the second half, once again on a penalty corner and assist from McFerren. The MAC's leading goal scorer, Debbie Bell, extended the Golden Flashes' lead to 3-1 three minutes later at the 47:53 mark with her 21st goal of the season.
Just a 1:06 later, Hofmann again was in the mix, finding Carla Johl off a penalty corner for her sixth goal of the season and a 4-1 lead.
"The difference in the game today was the penalty corners," head coach Cristy Freese said. "We missed a couple goals we could have gotten off of corners, but obviously they did a better job today."
The Chippewas pushed to mount a comeback, putting four shots on goal over the last 22 minutes of the contest, but KSU's Jahna Jordan made save after save to preserve the win and Kent State's hopes for their second-straight MAC Tournament title.
The Chippewas and Golden Flashes played the match very evenly as each fired 10 shots with KSU putting seven on cage and CMU six.
The loss also ends the careers of CMU's co-captains, Brooke Sihota and Paulina Lee. The Chippewas will return 20 players from the 2011 squad in 2012, including MAC Freshman of the Year Cayleigh Immelman and All-MAC first-team selection Simone Lazar."We are losing two great leaders in Brooke and Paulina," Freese said. "We have our starting goalkeeper back, who was second-team All-MAC, and basically our entire defense. We have young players that can step into those roles. We are very excited about the future."