Soccer ends historic season with loss to Northwestern


Kent State redshirt junior forward/mid-fielder Donavan Capehart (left), and junior mid-fielder Kristen Brots, (right), take on a Northwestern University player during the first game of the NCAA championship in Evanston, Illinois, on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Kent State lost 3-0 in the first round of the Division 1 Women’s College Soccer Tournament.

Carly Evans

Kent State ended its 2016 season the same way it began; with a 3-0 loss to a Big Ten team.

However, between Aug. 19 — when Kent State competed against the Ohio State University Buckeyes — and Nov. 12 — when it played Northwestern University — the Flashes put together one of the best seasons in program history.

Kent State won its first Mid-American Conference Championship. It went on a 10-game winning streak and a 13-match unbeaten streak, a program record and recorded the most wins in a season with 15, eight of which came in MAC play.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ashleah McDonald now holds the record for the most wins in a season by a goalie with 14. Senior forward Jenna Hellstrom holds the record for career goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and multiple-assist games.

When the Flashes learned they’d be playing Northwestern in their first NCAA Tournament berth, they had the confidence of a great season behind them.

“Going into this game we didn’t know much about them,” said senior midfielder Abbie Lawson. “We tried to focus in on self-talk and visualization and telling ourselves as a group that we could go out there and give them a game. I think we fell a little bit short there, but the fight was definitely there.”

The whole team seemed to have a great deal of confidence going into the game.

“I thought we were ready,” said head coach Rob Marinaro. “But we’re obviously disappointed in the outcome. You have to look at the entire season. I’m so proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished. They’ve really put Kent State women’s soccer on the map.”

The Flashes came out strong against Northwestern. They registered an early shot on goal and found the back of the net off a free kick within the first nine minutes— only for it to be called offsides.

Northwestern responded with two goals before the end of the first half; one off a corner kick, the other a penalty kick after a foul was called on McDonald.

“This season we noticed that harping on each other doesn’t work for us,” Lawson said. “In those moments it’s not so much about who’s at fault. But let’s refocus and put one in the back of their net.”

The referee waved off a potential penalty kick for the Flashes after the ball hit a Northwestern player’s hand in the penalty box.

“This is really a game where you need some of the breaks to go your way,” Marinaro said. “I really felt that early on with the goal being called back and them getting a penalty kick, it really changed the momentum of the entire game. Those are really things you can’t have happen in a NCAA Division I game.”

Northwestern would score again in the 82nd minute to put the game, and Kent State’s season, away.

The Flashes lose a senior class — forward Morgan Williams, defender Abigail LaVigna, midfielder Lawson, defender Brittany Maisano and forward Hellstrom — that holds the record for the most wins in program history with 48 wins.

“If this team keeps working hard and keeps up the fight they will continue to be successful,” Maisano said.

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