Kent State soccer sweeps weekend against BG, EMU

Dan Armelli

After being shut out last weekend, the Kent State women’s soccer team put up a combined seven points in wins against Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan. The Flashes improved to 9-5-2 overall and 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference.

Last weekend was the Flashes’ first back-to-back losses since October 2013. The Flashes got their third weekend sweep of the season this past weekend.

“You have got to come back and show resiliency, and they’ve done that,” said head coach Rob Marinaro. “I love the personality of our team this year. They’re doing a real good job and now we just need to keep on moving forward with it.”

Redshirt sophomore Donavan Capehart said this weekend was the type of attacking they looked for after their previous losses.

“Last weekend wasn’t that great offensively so we really wanted to show the MAC what we’re made of,” she said. “We’re not how we played last weekend, we’re how we played this weekend.”

The Flashes started Friday’s game against Bowling Green with a slow start, struggling to hold onto offensive possessions.

In the eleventh minute, a cross by Falcons freshman midfielder Juli Knapp found sophomore forward Skylar Fleak, who headed it into the top right corner of the net.

The Flashes started to build momentum as they put up shots on goal that were ultimately saved by the Falcons’ redshirt junior goalkeeper Lauren Cadel, who had a few impressive leaping saves.

Kent State was finally able to score in the thirty-fifth minute after a corner ball dribbled around and found sophomore defender Jaime Eiben, who tied up the game 1-1. It was her first goal of the season.

Eiben spent much of the day defending Fleak, who is listed at 6-foot, five inches taller than Eiben.

“I was just trying to keep her in front of me and not let her get around me,” she said. “For the headers, I mostly just tried to knock her off the ball and not really go for it because I couldn’t get up that high. I tried to make sure she didn’t get (the ball).”

The Flashes closed the first half with another goal in the forty-third minute by junior midfielder Morgan Williams. It was the first goal of her career.

Kent State quickly built off of what they started at the end of the first half, after junior forward Jenna Hellstrom scored on a fast break just 15 seconds into the second half.

The Flashes showed great ball movement in the fifty-second minute when Hellstrom passed it from the top of the box to junior defender Brittany Maisano out wide. Maisano then serviced a nice touch pass inside the box to Capehart, who scored on a header.

“It was pretty good soccer,” Marinaro said. “I don’t know if it was the best, but it definitely came very close. The ball was moving quickly, and they were sharp. They were not big balls; there were a lot of quick, real dynamic movement from our backs to our front.”

Friday was the sixth time this season the Flashes came from behind to win. Marinaro said he hasn’t seen a team who gets down and comes right back quite like this since he’s been coaching.  

“They really seem to get fired up when their backs are against the wall,” he said. “They…come out and show a lot more fight than what they do when the game’s just kind of starting off.”

Hellstrom said she thinks the Flashes play differently when the opponent has the lead.

“You start seeing us being alive after they score, which we really need,” she said “It’s great that we come back. It’s awesome because a lot of teams can’t do that because they get their heads down. I think we just have to work on being the first one to score in games.”

It was a different situation on Sunday when Kent State was able to get the first goal for the first time since its shutout of Cleveland State on Sept. 13.

Each of the Flashes’ three goals came off the foot of Capehart, who now leads the team in goals with 11. It was her second hat trick of the season.

Capehart, who also had a two-goal game against Akron, agreed that she advances to another gear after she scores her first goal.  

“It’s kind of like ‘now that I’ve got one, can I get more?’” she said. “Those goals today, the second and third one, that was all teamwork: right place, right time, making the right runs. I think we’re all hunting for the goals.”

The Flashes finished the first half with six shots on goal, and prevented the Eagles from getting any of their own.

In the fifty-fifth minute, Capehart beat the goalie out of the box to increase Kent State’s lead to 2-0. After a brief breather on the sidelines, Capehart came back in the eighty-fifth minute to finish off her hat trick, giving the Flashes a 3-0 win.

Kent State’s defense was able to get its third shut out of the year.

“Not a shot on goal (for 71 minutes), I think that has a lot to do with just the overall team defense,” Marinaro said. “Our bite to the ball has been really strong. We’re pressuring very well. A lot of the times (the ball) isn’t even getting to the defense. But our back four have been extremely solid. It’s nice to see (freshman goalkeeper Ashleah) McDonald get a shut out. That’ll build some confidence on the entire defense. But they’ve been playing great defense. So it’s nice for them to get a little bit of a reward.”

Sunday was McDonald’s second shut out of the season.

The Flashes were able to bounce back from last week’s losses, but Maisano said they were also motivated by another goal they have.

“We want to be undefeated at home, so that was good too, especially since we had lost two the weekend before,” she said.

Kent State is 6-0-1 at home this season. They will be back on the road Friday at Central Michigan and Sunday at Toledo.

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