Soccer’s defense key in 10th straight win

Carly Evans

The Kent State soccer team (10-1, 6-0 Mid-American Conference) played two very different games this weekend. They can attribute their 4-0 win over the The University Akron to their offense, and their win over the University at Buffalo (6-6-2, 3-3 MAC) to their defense.

After 18 shots and only three saves in their commanding win over the Zips Thursday, the Flashes had only seven shots and just as many saves in their 1-0 win over the Buffalo Bulls Sunday.

Their first and only goal came early in the first half.

Senior forward Jenna Hellstrom was able to find the back of the net in the 15th minute after she received the ball at the top of the penalty box from junior midfielder Kristen Brots. Hellstrom was able to catch Buffalo’s goalkeeper off guard as she launched the ball over her head.

“In girls soccer we don’t really shoot from that far out,” Hellstrom said. “I just had a feeling, so I took my touch and shot it and it ended up going in. A lot of goalies aren’t ready for that far (of a) shot, so I took a chance.”

This provided a short spout of momentum — Hellstrom found the back of the net just a few minutes later, only for it be called offside. For a team that seems to gain confidence and pick up momentum after goals, this could’ve set them up for a better offensive performance in the second half.

The Flashes offense failed to find a rhythm, and only had two shots in the second half, as opposed to Buffalo’s six.

The Flashes starting goalkeeper, sophomore Ashleah McDonald, sat out due to an injury, and backup goalkeeper, junior Katie Kingsbury, rose to the occasion. Kingsbury made seven saves in her first start of the season.

“Katie really stepped up and did a fantastic job for us today, and that’s what we ask of all our players,” head coach Rob Marinaro said. “You have your starting 11, and then everyone else had got to step up for playing time … so far that’s really been the key to a lot of our success.”

The Flashes defense took control in the second half, continuously shutting down the Bulls attempts to find the back of the net.

Freshman defender Sierra Henderson-Muschett is a young player who has played an important role at the center-back position.

“When you talk about the strength of a team, defense is going to win you games,” Marinaro said. “Our defense has really stepped up and taken care of their job. Sierra has done a fantastic job for us defensively, and she’s surrounded by a lot of players with experience who do a fantastic job altogether.”

Sunday’s win pushes the Flashes winning streak to 10 games, as they’re undefeated in the Mid-American Conference.

Kent State will play at Central Michigan University on Friday at 6 p.m.

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