Flashes’ soccer team looks to sustain success

Cameron Hoover

The 2016 season was a triumph for coach Rob Marinaro’s Kent State women’s soccer team. The Flashes finished their season at 15-3-2. They didn’t just beat their opponents; Oftentimes, score lines would become lopsided quickly, as the team finished the season with not only the most goals scored in their conference but also the second fewest given up, outscoring opposing teams 38-17 on the way to a Mid-American Conference Championship.

In 2017, the Kent State women’s soccer team looks for more of the same.

“Obviously, to win another (MAC) championship would be great,” said Paige Culver, junior midfielder and defender. “That’s always a goal. We definitely want to grow more as a team.”

The Flashes will have to embark on that journey towards the MAC Championship without one of their leaders from the previous season. Jenna Hellstrom, who chipped in with a team-leading 14 goals and 10 assists in 19 games last year has since graduated, leaving much of the scoring load on Hayden Pascoe and the team’s other attacking options.

“I don’t know how you can really replace that,” said Pascoe, who scored six goals and assisted five others last season. “Every day, we’re going to work as a team, and everyone just needs to shoot more. (Hellstrom) loved to score, and she knew how to score. Now, we just have to start putting it in the back of the net.”

“We have a lot of quality players that are returning that have done a wonderful job themselves,” Marinaro said. “So it’s not something where we’re just going to throw on one person. We’ll look to spread it around and get a little more quality from everybody.”

The Flashes come into the 2017 season welcoming nine freshmen, including Hellstrom’s younger sister, Karly, to their ranks.

“Obviously, there were some great players we lost, but it wasn’t a very big group,” Marinaro said. “We’re going to look to (some of the older players) for leadership and help along the way. Their leadership makes the nine new players learn and figure out our expectations.”

One area the Flashes will look to for consistency throughout the season is their defense. The team only allowed 17 goals (0.84 per game) throughout the entire season. Most of their core defenders are returning for this season and look to continue those rock-solid performances.

“I think (the reason for that success) is just our connection at the back,” said Culver, who led the Flashes last season with 1,866 minutes played. “Everybody knows how each other plays.”

As the start of the season looms, the coach and players remain coy on their vision for this season.

“We like to look at things one game at a time, just continuing to get better every single day,” Marinaro said.

Pascoe put it a bit more bluntly.

“I just want to win. I don’t care who scores or who assists, anything like that. I just want us to win.”

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