Temple women’s field hockey was locked in a tight 0-0 game with No. 24 Maine when the first overtime period ended.
As the two teams were preparing for the second overtime period, they were ordered to leave the field.
Kent State University, which hosted the game, cancelled the game at the last second so a fireworks display for the Kent State football team could be accomodated.
“There was a lot of confusion at first,” senior forward Cristen Barnett said. “I thought that we were in danger due to the fire marshals being there, but then figuring out that it was for fireworks for a football game, there was a lot of disappointment.”
Since the incident on Saturday, the game has been classified as a scrimmage on both team’s schedules.
Temple coach Sussan Ciufo said that both teams worked together to try and find a way to finish the game. The idea of a shortened overtime or an early shootout was brought up, but both were rebuffed by the Kent State Athletic Department.
“I feel bad for my team. I feel bad for the Maine student-athletes,” Ciufo said. “They work really hard on a daily basis. To compete for 70 minutes and overtime and not feel like that was the right to complete that game, but more of an opportunity to complete that game, I think that no female in general should feel that they are lucky to do what they do. To feel slighted, I felt for my team in that moment.”
Kent State offered to resume and ultimately finish the game at 5:30 p.m., but it would have been impossible due to travel arrangements for Temple. Maine stayed an extra day to play the Kent State field hockey team on Sunday.
The game began at 9:00 a.m. and needed to be finished by 10:30 a.m. An NCAA field hockey game consists of two halves that are each 35 minutes long, with a seven minute halftime.
It would have been possible for the game to be finished by 10:30 a.m., but it would have been close. With timeouts, celebrations, and more taking up extra time, a half is never exactly 35 minutes long. Add in the overtime periods that needed to be played, and the game went past the deadline.
Kent State has been loudly criticized for their unpreparedness during the situation. The National Field Hockey Coaches Association said in a statement that the situation was “extremely damaging” and “unacceptable.”
Per the Washington Post, the NFCHA said that both Temple and Maine were notified of the 10:30 a.m. deadline in an email sent in May, but that Kent State didn’t properly communicate the steps that were needed to make sure the game ended by then.
Kent State has also been called out by the NFCHA to properly compensate for both teams.
In a statement released on Saturday, Kent State said that the safety of all the players, coaches, and fans was their first priority.
“We regret today’s game had to be stopped during overtime play per field guidelines as previously discussed,’ the statement says. “We recognize the hard work and dedication of all student-athletes. The safety of our community, including student-athletes and visitors is always our first consideration.”
The decision to cancel the game is being reviewed currently by the NCAA to see if it’s a Title XI violation. Players and coaches from both sides have spoken out, saying that this is a direct example of discrimination in women’s sports.
“The fact it happened to a women’s sports team essentially put us back a little bit. I think it’s very unfortunate the decision-making process wasn’t thought out more,” Ciufo told The Washington Post. “I know we’re not a big-revenue sport, but to make young women feel what they did for 70 minutes doesn’t really matter, what are we telling young female athletes about what it means to be an athlete?”
Due to both Temple and Maine’s schedules already being set for the year and the two schools being far away, the game will most likely not be finished.
“We were told that fireworks and setting up for a football game is more important than finishing our contest,” Barnett said. “A contest that we’ve been working since last January for. These are the games that we fight for and work for. Just to have that pulled from us, it sends a disappointing message.”