Kent State soccer faces BG, Eastern Michigan as season winds down

Dan Armelli

The Kent State women’s soccer team is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since October of 2013. Last weekend was the first time the Flashes were swept in a regular season weekend since September of 2011.

With three more weeks of regular season play left and five more games on the schedule, the Flashes (7-5-2, 3-3) will look to get back to their aggressive style on the offensive end.

“I think we will come out harder,” junior forward Jenna Hellstrom said. “Not that we didn’t come out hard (last weekend). I think it just maybe got into our heads that it was going to be a big weekend last weekend playing against one of the two best teams in the MAC. I personally think we could beat them. But we learned from last weekend. I think that makes it even more motivating to do even better this weekend.”

The Flashes failed to score in both of their weekend losses against Ball State and Miami of Ohio. Head coach Rob Marinaro noted that he wanted the team to attack more.

Junior midfielder Abbie Lawson said when it comes to attacking on offense, it all starts with effort.

“I think first and foremost it’s just the effort that we put in and the soccer comes with it,” she said. “It’s definitely a team effort; it’s not just the forwards or just the midfielders. It starts in the back and works its way forward.”

Assistant coach Abby Richter noted the team worked this week on things they need to improve on, attacking being one of them.

“Things we saw on video that we need to get better at (is what we worked on),” she said. “Some of it was attacking and just refreshing the team on how we play and what we need to do to be successful.”

Hellstrom thinks that while there is always room for improvement, the Flashes are playing really well up front.

“I think we just have to keep doing what we have been doing,” Hellstrom said. “We’ve been practicing a lot during the week. So if we take what we did during practice and put it into the game we should be good to go.”

Kent State has already played the four teams ahead it is behind in the MAC standings: Ball State, Miami, Western Michigan (its only win of the four) and Buffalo.

The last five opponents on the Flashes’ schedule are all under .500–though Central Michigan is currently ahead of them in the MAC with a 3-2-1 conference record.

Richter said no matter what MAC opponent the team faces, they will face a team that is physical and works hard.

“The two teams we’re playing this weekend, that’s what they’re about,” she said. “They’re going to work hard and they’re going to battle. We just need to bring that to the table also.”

Senior defender Madison Helterbran acknowledged that she’s thought about ending her last year with the team on top.

“The last three years we haven’t won a MAC championship since I’ve been here,” she said. “Obviously that’s the goal; that’s the goal every year. But this year I believe we can do it. I know our whole team believes we can do it. We have five games left and we just need to keep working hard, and lead us well into the tournament so we can get a ring.”

If the season ended today, the Flashes would get the sixth seed in the eight-team MAC tournament.

Kent State has two more chances this weekend to gain some ground on MAC East leader Miami, who is six points ahead of the Flashes.

As a team that’s had five come-from-behind victories this season, coming off being swept last weekend will be yet another test Kent State’s resiliency will face.

“I think the fact that we have come back (from deficits) shows what kind of character and what kind of heart the girls have,” Richter said. “Hopefully we don’t have to get behind to bring what we have to the table.”

Lawson noted that while the results from last weekend were upsetting, the team had some quality play.

“Playing wise we had some really nice things happen,” she said. “So we’re kind of using that as momentum for this weekend. Training’s been going well this week. I definitely think we’re looking to be back on track for the weekend.”

Kent State plays twice at Zoeller Field this weekend against Bowling Green at 4 p.m. on Friday and Eastern Michigan at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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