Soccer earns share of MAC East title with commanding win

Carly Evans

From Aug. 21 to Oct. 9, Kent State’s soccer team beat all 10 opponents it played. The team was in first place in the Mid-American Conference East, and three different Flashes had been division players of the week.

Last weekend, the team didn’t beat any team they played, tying two tough MAC opponents in Michigan, and scoring only once the entire weekend.

Thursday the Flashes played perhaps the best game of the season, beating second-place University of Miami (OH) 3-0, and clinching at least a share of the regular season MAC East title.

“Today was a fantastic performance,” head coach Rob Marinaro said. “I’m really proud of them rebounding from the weekend.

Marinaro said he thought the team played well, but just didn’t get the results they hoped for.

“We had started to see a little frustration,” he said. “For them to bounce back and really show such a unified performance was really pleasing.”

Kent State dominated the Miami (OH) from the start. The team had 13 shots in the first half, compared to Miami’s one. The Flashes had six corner kicks in the first 15 minutes, while the team’s opponent had one in the first 45 minutes.

“I think our speed of play was a lot better today,” Marinaro said. You can see us breaking the other team down quicker. I think we also saw a much better unified team and you can see the energy they produced today.”

Senior forward Jenna Hellstrom scored the first goal of the game in the 22nd minute, taking a pass from junior forward Hayden Pascoe. She split two defenders and put the ball in the corner of the net from 20 yards out.

“We knew what was on the line for this game,” Hellstrom said. “After we got the first one, we had our momentum built up. I think from there we still fought extremely hard, won first and second balls and got the result we wanted.”

Hellstrom scored again in the 56th minute. She now has 12 goals on the season and 35 in her career. 35 is the most in program history. 12 is tied for fourth in program history with at least three games to go.

Sophomore forward Dominique Dinardo scored her first goal of the season in the 76th minute. Junior forward Donavan Capehart and sophomore defender Paige Culver assisted.

“I was out wide and saw Paige take the free kick,” Dinardo said. “Donavan was standing there and had a great flick into the box so I ran in, hit it with my chest and I just hit it back post.”

Kent State is on a 13-game unbeaten streak, a program record. The Flashes are 11-1-2 on the season and 7-0-2 in the MAC.

With a win against Ball State University Sunday, Kent State would earn the No. one seed heading into the MAC playoffs. Ball State is in first in the MAC West.

“I really don’t look that far ahead,” Marinaro said. “I’m going to enjoy this win for about five or ten minutes and then focus in on want we want to do for Sunday’s match. I thought it was our hardest-working performance that we’ve seen in a very long time. Now we just need to follow it up with another performance on Sunday.”

Sunday’s game against Ball State will be at 1 p.m. at Dix Stadium.

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