Solid defense pushes women’s soccer to Senior Day win


Senior Mackenzie Lesnick attempts to score a goal in game against Dayton on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at Dix Stadium. Kent State won 1-0.

Cameron Hoover

As game time approached, there was a sense growing around Dix Stadium of excitement and joy as Senior Day kicked off.

The public address announcer echoed through the stadium commemorating each of the team’s seven seniors with a litany of information: their hometown, area of study and every award or honor they had received during their time with Kent State. It quickly became clear that this seemingly inconsequential non-conference matchup was anything but to these players.

The result matched the anticipation as the Flashes beat Dayton, 1-0, on a beautifully-worked goal from Vital Kats. One of the seniors, Kristen Brots, slid a perfectly weighted through ball to Kats, who was running down the left side of the 18-yard box. Kats got the ball on her right foot and smoothly slid it past the goalkeeper into the bottom right corner.

“The goal, I thought, was great quality, great play,” said coach Rob Marinaro. “Speed of play was excellent there, and finding a through ball to (Kats) was fantastic.”

“I was just thinking, ‘Put it right in the corner, and it’ll go in,'” Kats said.

The goal was Kats’s third of the season, tying her for the team lead with fellow freshman Cameron Shedenhelm.

The defense impressed again, as the Flashes kept their third consecutive clean sheet and their fourth of the season. The back line appears to be proving itself to be a strong point, which will only help the team as it enters conference play.

“We have more of a veteran group back there,” said Marinaro. “So they’re leading the way for us and taking care of business back there – playing some great team defense as well. That’s where you’re going to see some results.”

Six of the seven seniors (Katie Kingsbury, Karli Paracca, Hayden Pascoe, Jaime Eiben, Mackenzie Lesnick and Kristen Brots) occupied the starting lineup. The only one that was missing was Donavan Capehart, who remains sidelined with a leg injury.

“You want to show the respect that you have for your seniors,” said Marinaro. “It’s a wonderful group. It’s definitely an extra special day when you can pick up a win on Senior Day.”

Marinaro pointed out the importance of this particular senior class in the grand scheme of the history of Kent State soccer.

“They were a part of our first Mid-American Conference Championship,” he said. “So, they brought a lot to the table in taking us to the next level. They’re really committed to keeping us there and giving us quality work. They’ve done a really nice job.”

The Flashes are back in action Thursday for their final non-conference contest against Xavier in Cincinnati at 7 p.m.

Cameron Hoover is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].