Soccer’s season ends on penalty kicks

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Nate Manley / The Kent Stater Sophomore forward, Karli Paracca, races a Miami defender down field on Sunday Nov. 1, 2015. The Flashes lost to Miami in penalty kicks. 

Dan Armelli

In the last game of the season, Kent State’s soccer team was unable to claim a victory over Miami (Ohio) University, losing 5-3.

RedHawks junior goalkeeper Vic Maniaci, who led the MAC in goal against average (0.62), was able to make a diving save in penalty kicks against redshirt sophomore Donavan Capehart, who led the conference in goals (12).

This turned out to be the difference in the game, but both teams had their opportunities in regulation and both overtimes.

“Honestly, I don’t think they did anything that we couldn’t stop,” senior defender Madison Helterbran said. “That’s why it went to penalty kicks. With (those) sometimes you just don’t end up on top.”

The Flashes (11-6-3, 7-4), earned its fourth shutout with freshman goalkeeper Ashleah McDonald being in goal.

“(McDonald) gave us her best,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “She was really close to a couple of (penalty kicks). (Miami) stuck their penalty kicks very well and their goalie made a great save on the one that we shot. We put everyone on frame; no one missed. No one sucked up the pressure or let the pressure get to them.”

Overall in the season, Kent State held its opponent to zero scores five times.

“We held them to no goals and that’s what we want in a game,” Helterbran said. “The whole unit, defense through midfield and forward, did great defending. That’s what we want.”

There were many external elements that both teams played with. As with Kent State’s regular season finale against Ohio University, there were heavy winds that blew the ball off spots.

The game was played on turf at Dix Stadium, as opposed to the lengthy grass at Zoeller field. The ball played much faster and bounced much higher at the former than the latter.

Marinaro said his team did great handling all of the elements of the game.

“I’m really happy with the crowd we had today,” he said. “I think our kids built some momentum off of that. Again, there’s nothing really that I could’ve asked more from our team.  They really showed the fight today. Unfortunately, we weren’t successful.”

In regulation, the Flashes were able to be on the attack most of the time. However, they were left with a deficit in terms of shots on goal: four to Miami’s five.

“(Miami) defends extremely well and they neutralized us very well in our attacks,” Marinaro said. “We didn’t create enough space for ourselves going forward. A game with that type of pressure and in the playoffs; those are the things that can happen. I thought we did enough to try to find the back of the goal. We did create some opportunities. Unfortunately, it was a day where we didn’t put one in the back of the goal.”

McDonald was able to save all five shots on goal, and displayed some aggressive play while punching out loose balls off corner kicks multiple times.

The Flashes had the ball almost the entire first overtime, collecting four of their eight corner kicks in those 10 minutes. Two of the corners connected with freshman defender Paige Culver, but both times the ball was headed just wide of the goal.

Marinaro said he felt really good about his team’s chances coming off the first overtime performance.

“I told them that they had a lot of momentum building up and they just needed to keep it going,” he said. “But you know… Miami came back really strong in double overtime. All in all, for the amount of time that they played–110 minutes—we showed a lot of heart and desire.”

Both teams failed to get much going offensively in double overtime. Miami sealed the victory by scoring on all of its penalty kicks.

This game was the last for Helterbran, who ended her Kent State career with 26 points on seven goals and 12 assists. She helped the Flashes collect 46 wins in her four-year career.

“I think, for me, it’s definitely very emotional, especially not being able to play with these girls anymore,” Helterbran said. “But it was a good season and, like I said, we fought hard. It just wasn’t in our favor today.”

Marinaro said Helterbran, who he said was “stellar in the back for us all season long,” is the only player the Flashes will lose who was able to start the entire season.

“We have everybody coming back (next season),” Marinaro said. “I’m really confident in the future of our program and really happy what (it) looks like.”

Helterbran also likes what she sees in her teammates’ program going forward.

“They’re going to take this program great lengths,” she said. “I have great confidence in them that they’ll do big things here.”

Dan Armelli is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]