Soccer to play Northwestern in NCAA Tournament

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The Kent State soccer team celebrates after its first goal in the MAC Championship game against Northern Illinois University on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. The Flashes would go on to win the championship, 1-0.

Carly Evans

Kent State (15-2-2, 8-1-2 Mid-American Conference) will play Northwestern University (14-2-4, 7-1-3 Big 10) in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament. This will be the first appearance in program history.

The Flashes received an automatic bid into the tournament after winning their first MAC Championship Sunday with a 1-0 win over Northern Illinois University.

“The team was in the field hockey locker room and they have all their awards in there,” senior midfielder Abbie Lawson said. “Someone said ‘It’s because they’re so good and they win all the time.’ I just thought to myself that we’re the start of that for soccer. No one can take this away; we made history and we’re starting something, and to be apart of that is really amazing.”

The Flashes set a program record with a 13-game unbeaten streak this season and most wins in a season, with 15.

“It’s starting to sink in,” head coach Rob Marinaro said. “It was a fantastic day. I’m so proud of our team. They’re just a fantastic group to coach and be around on a daily basis. A lot of credit goes to our coaches who just poured themselves into helping us build a successful program and saw it come to fruition yesterday.”

Northwestern competes in the Big 10 Conference and went 14-2-4 this season.

“We need to try and find out as much as we can about them and see how they play,” Marinaro said. “They’re going to have their home field, so to go up to Chicago and try and beat a Big 10 team is a huge challenge. We’re really excited for the opportunity and the experience.”

Kent State will play at 3 p.m. Saturday at Northwestern.

“All year we’ve really talked about focusing on us,” Lawson said. “Especially so in the MAC. Honestly, we don’t know much about them, and I think that’s okay going into this type of game. We’ll study how they play, but we have to worry about us.”

Carly Evans is a sports reporter, contact her at [email protected]