Cards look for redemption in MAC tournament

Halliday says that conference title is 'not too far out of reach.'

Field hockey head coach Jen Halliday has a history in the sport that very few can claim to harbor.

As a member of North Carolina's national powerhouse of a team, she saw three Atlantic Coast Conference championships and four national runner up finishes.

While coaching the Davidson Wildcats, Halliday drove the team to the Deep South Field Hockey Association championship in 1999. After two rebuilding years with Halliday in charge, the Wildcats' record was 11-7 -- the best in school history.

Now Halliday is sitting at the helm of the most successful field hockey program in Mid-American Conference history. But success has sidestepped the close-call Cardinals this year, who are only 2-7 in the MAC.

And with its final two games of the season ending in blustering defeat Friday and Saturday, the field hockey team missed the momentum it was looking for going into the MAC tournament this weekend.

But once again, Halliday and the team will not lie down. And they will not end the season without a fight.

"Its MAC time, and it's a new season," Halliday said with a renewed sense of hope. "The winner is just going to be the team that wants it the most."

Friday's 2-1 loss to No. 9 Kent showed the team how good they can play against nationally ranked contenders, Halliday said.

After outshooting the Flashes 9-6, Halliday said the Cardinals dominated in all facets of the game but scoring. And if they play like that in the MAC tournament, the winds of success might blow them an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

Ball State dropped the ball in the second half in Saturday's bout with No. 10 Ohio, according to Halliday. And that was to blame for the loss.

"We played strong for three halves this weekend," Halliday said. "But we weren't working for the ball in the second half with Ohio."

Despite Saturday's second-half loss, Halliday said Central Michigan will see a new face on the Cardinals when they meet in Louisville Friday for the MAC tournament.

And if the team plays like Halliday knows it's capable of, a MAC championship is not too far out of reach, she said.

A MAC championship title, many agree, would turn a shaky season into a success for Halliday and the team.


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