Kent State soccer splits last road weekend

Karli+Paracca%2C+sophomore%2C+controls+the+ball+in+the+game+against+the+Akron+Zips+at+Cub+Cadet+Field+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+25%2C+2015.

Karli Paracca, sophomore, controls the ball in the game against the Akron Zips at Cub Cadet Field on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015.

Dan Armelli

The Kent State women’s soccer team felt how tough it is to face two teams late in the season, vying for conference points.

The Flashes came out on both sides of the results: a win at Central Michigan and a loss at Toledo puts Kent State at an overall record of 10-6-2 and 6-4 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

“The team knows it very well,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “That’s something that we constantly talked about. Today, we didn’t take it to heart. Unfortunately, that put us on the short end of the stick.”

Kent State’s first game against Central Michigan started out as an evenly matched affair after sophomore midfielder Kristen Brots’s third goal of the season in the eighth minute.

With a 1-1 tie after the first 45 minutes, the Flashes and Chippewas had the same number of shots on goal (five) and saves (four). 

The stalemate was broken when junior midfielder Abbie Lawson scored her first goal of the season in the 65th minute.

“(Junior forward Jenna Hellstrom) dribbled the ball down the sideline and had a beautiful cross in,” Lawson said. “From there, it was kind of a battle in the box. It just fell in front, and we capitalized on it.”

A minute later, sophomore forward Hayden Pascoe followed up with her fourth goal of the season after assisting on Brots’ goal in the first half. Pascoe’s three points tied her season high.

“They were crucial goals, obviously, because (Central Michigan) ended up coming back and getting one,” Marinaro said. “The third proved to be the sealer … We had the opportunities and, fortunately, we battled inside the box to make sure that they found the back of the net.”

A late, long goal with three minutes left in the contest by the Chippewas gave the game a final score of 3-2.

“I wouldn’t say panic and I wouldn’t say we felt like we had the win in hand,” she said. “We knew we still had to work hard for the last however many minutes were left. We kind of buckled down and just once again played as a unit and got the job done.”

The Flashes allowed nine shots on goal and six corners, both totaling their most given up since their loss to Ball State. But freshman goalkeeper Ashleah McDonald was able to save six shots, her most in a win since Kent State faced Bryant in late August.

Even though it wasn’t the Flashes’ cleanest win of the season, senior defender Madison Helterbran was satisfied with getting the road victory.

“When we’re on the road, when we get a win, it’s obviously a great win because it’s not the easiest thing to get a road win,” she said. “But any win we get, we get confidence off of it and just look towards the next game, going out and winning that one too.”

Sunday, against Toledo, proved to be a much different game. For the fourth time this season, Kent State went into halftime with a scoreless tie.

The score remained 0-0 until Toledo starting piling up shots on goal.

“I tipped (the first shot), and it hit the post,” McDonald said. “Then it hit the post again and it came flying up. I went up for the ball and when I had it in my hands a Toledo player came right into my body. My whole body just table-topped. Then the ball came loose, and that’s when the goal happened.”

As has been commonplace for this Kent State team, it was able to respond positively after going down 1-0.

“I always believed that we were going to be able to come back,” said redshirt sophomore Donavan Capehart. “We never lost faith. We never lost hope.”

In the 76th minute, Hellstrom crossed the ball into the box from the left side of the field to Capehart, who knocked it in for the equalizer.

It was the last time the Flashes were able to get something going on the attack.

“We were caught defending too much,” Marinaro said. “But I don’t think it was something where we were caught defending the entire game. We’re just very disappointed on our opportunities, on creating the offense. We really didn’t get it going today.”

McDonald spent the rest of the half making high-difficulty saves that tested her 5’10” frame. She collected five saves on the day. 

“She played well, our defense played very well,” Marinaro said. “But we just can’t rely too much on them, and today I think we did. They had a very good game, and everybody in front of them has got to give us a little bit more.”

Five minutes into overtime, after a long free kick, Toledo drew a penalty in the box on a jump ball. The Rockets capitalized on the call in question, giving them the 2-1 win. The Flashes are now 1-2-2 in overtimes.

Marinaro said a little bit of everything contributed to the Flashes not being able to get much going on the attack.

“We didn’t really focus in,” he said. “We didn’t play our game. If we don’t play our game, we get caught just trying to mix it up with the other team instead of just coming back to our game: playing with speed and space, and keeping the ball moving forward in combinations. We did that when we scored our goal, but really it was a little bit more of a disappointment in us getting forward.”

Kent State will face Ohio University at 3 p.m. on Friday at Zoeller Field for the regular season finale.

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