On Sept. 7, 2019, the University of Maine field hockey team was deprived of playing a second overtime period against Temple at a tournament at Ohio’s Kent State University due to a fireworks display prior to a Kent State football game.
The backlash to the decision made by Kent State officials was overwhelming. The National Field Hockey Coaches Association admonished Kent State for its decision. Temple and UMaine’s athletic directors, coaches and players voiced their displeasure.
The Kent State athletic director apologized and the school launched a Title IX violations investigation, eventually exonerating itself.
UMaine and Kent State will square off against each other at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, on Saturday before the Black Bears take on No. 5 Northwestern on Sunday. Both games will be played at 1 p.m.
UMaine head coach Josette Babineau still has 14 players from that 2019 team and with Kent State on the schedule, the memories from that game have resurfaced.
“The girls talked about it. It’s still emotional for them,” Babineau said.
Despite being 1-3, the Black Bears are ranked 25th in the country because their three losses have all been in overtime to nationally ranked teams: No. 3 Boston College (3-2), No. 21 UMass (3-2) and No. 15 Harvard (2-1).
UMaine finally broke through in overtime to beat Providence 2-1.
Kent State, which is 3-1, as is Northwestern, is ranked 23rd.
Kent State was supposed to visit UMaine last fall but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled that game. Both Kent State and Northwestern are scheduled to come to Orono next fall.
Babineau is in her 15th season at UMaine and said this is the first time her team has played four consecutive overtime games.
One reason for all the overtimes stems from the NCAA decision to go from two 35-minute halves to four 15-minute quarters in 2019. That has reduced the time for one team to separate itself from the other on the scoreboard.
Babineau said one of the team’s problems in overtime is that they have been juggling the lineup to find the right combination, and it wasn’t until the Providence win that they were able to come up with one that was able to control play.
UMaine has also been without reigning America East Midfielder of the Year Hana Davis, who suffered a broken toe in the loss to BC in which she scored both goals.
She could be back next weekend when UMaine hosts non-conference games against Merrimack on Friday and Northeastern on Sunday.
Skowhegan sophomore Bhreagh Kennedy, who played just 33 minutes during the spring season, has replaced Davis at right midfield and has done really well according to Babineau.
“She needed playing time, especially against good opponents. It has helped her confidence,” Babineau said.
Davis, Poppy Lambert and Old Town’s Brooke Sulinski are the leading scorers with two goals apiece while Tereza Holubcova has three assists and Boothbay Harbor’s Sydney Meader has a goal and an assist. Cassandra Mascarenhas, the 2019 America East Defender of the Year, has two assists.
Lambert had the game-winning goal against Providence.
Goalkeeper Mia Borley (2.03 goals-against average, .757 save percentage) has been outstanding, Babineau said.
She added that this weekend is a great opportunity for her players to gain more experience against a pair of nationally ranked opponents.