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Soccer shutouts NIU in MAC Tournament opener

Brittany Lucia
Kent State Women’s Soccer vs. Northern Illinois University on Sunday, October 15, 2023.

On Oct. 15, Northern Illinois defeated Kent State’s soccer team 2-1 — the program’s first loss to NIU since 2013.

On Sunday, the Flashes earned their third shutout of the season, defeating the Huskies 3-0 in the first round in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Kent State’s soccer team plays Northern Illinois on Oct. 15, 2023. (Brittany Lucia)


KSU improved to 11-6-2 overall and 7-4 in the MAC.

With the loss, NIU’s seasons ended, finishing 8-8-2 and 6-4-1 in the conference.

This is Kent State’s first MAC playoff appearance since 2021 and its 15th under coach Rob Marinaro.

“We have enough players that were here in 2021 and understand what it takes to win in the playoffs,” Marinaro said. “We gave them not just the game plan but also the emotions of what happens in a playoff game. They really stepped up and managed all aspects of the game.”

Both teams were in a stalemate until junior forward Alisa Arthur broke the tie in the 35th minute.

Arthur buried a free kick from 26 yards out to give the Flashes a 1-0 lead. 

Shortly after, in the 37th minute, Arthur found junior midfielder Siena Stambolich, who floated a shot over the keeper, extending the lead to 2-0. 

KSU is 10-0 this season when scoring multiple goals in a game.

“It was important to get ourselves established early in the game,” Marinaro said. “That’s what we asked of the team, and that’s what they did right from the start of the game.”

After halftime, the Flashes defended hard behind five saves from graduate student Sarah Melén. The Huskies pressed hard for offense, but Kent State counterattacked to earn a corner in the 84th minute. 

After a few headers, junior defender Tori Copfer headed the ball over the Northern Illinois goalkeeper to put the game away.

This was Copfer’s first goal of the season and career.

The Flashes will travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for a semifinal matchup against top-seeded Western Michigan (12-3-3, 8-0-3) Thursday at 2 p.m. 

Kent State’s soccer team faces Northern Illinois on Oct. 15, 2023. (Brittany Lucia)

Kent State will look to continue its revenge, tour as they lost to the Broncos 2-0 on Oct. 19. 

“We are positioning ourselves in a spot to make a run,” Marinaro said. “If we can continue to play with that type of intensity, work rate and fight.”

Matthew Franos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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