Soccer win earns home playoff game Sunday

Dan Armelli

With the Miami Redhawks losing just moments prior to the Kent State soccer team’s game against Ohio, the Flashes needed a win to secure a home playoff game for Sunday’s first round of the MAC tournament.

Kent State had been thwarting the Bobcats attack the entire first half, but came away with a 0-0 after the first 45 minutes. Fourteen shots and six shots on goal were not enough for the Flashes to come away with the lead.

However, at the 62-minute-mark, sophomore Jaime Eiben was able to once again prevent Ohio from going on the offensive. Junior forward Jenna Hellstrom was able to beat her defender and break the tie, making it 1-0. Hellstrom’s goal extended her career-high to 11, which is second on the team to redshirt sophomore Donavan Capehart’s 12. Capehart and Hellstrom finished the season as the MAC’s top two scorers.

“After we scored the first (goal), that’s kind of where we got momentum,” Hellstrom said. “Every time we score one goal, the whole spirit of the team picks up. That’s when I think we started battling the most. Of course, we wanted a second (goal) just to seal the deal, but we kept pushing, and we fought to the end.”

Another element Kent State (11-6-2, 7-4) ending up fighting was the wind. The breeze was so severe at some points during goal kicks that the ball would be blown off the spot, forcing the goalies to re-spot the ball.

“I think in the first half we definitely had our opportunities,” said Flashes coach Rob Marinaro. “The wind was a challenge. Even though we had the wind, it was creating some difficulties with our offense as far as the balls that we try to play through and in behind. Everything just kept on carrying out of bounds. We found some difficulty in playing our offense in the first half, but really kind of found our rhythm in the second half.”

After Hellstrom’s goal, Ohio started to get more sustained offense, leading to more shots. Marinaro said that was just a product of the Bobcats putting more players forward.

“That kind of forced us to match up, and defend with more numbers defensively,” he said. “I think we still created some opportunities, which we call the ‘counterattack.’ I think we still started getting forward on them a little bit more. Obviously with the wind and them throwing numbers forward, you’re going to have to defend a little bit more.”

Senior defender Madison Helterbran said taking on a barrage of shots at the end is just something they’re used to.

“During crunch time, we know what to do,” she said. “It’s not anything we’re nervous about. We just know we have got to get to zero on the scoreboard and on the clock, and make it out with the win.”

Helterbran played her last regular season game with the Flashes, but said she didn’t look at it as an emotional situation.

“We still have the tournament to go,” she said. “It’s sad that it’s coming to an end, obviously, but we’re just very excited for the tournament and looking forward to that. We’re not trying to be sad about anything because we have a lot to go forward with.”

Hellstrom noted that while every game is big for Kent State, they needed a home playoff game.

“We do well at home,” she said. “We have a good chance to go all the way. I think this game obviously meant a lot, and we got the result we wanted.”

The Flashes finished undefeated at home with a 7-0-1 record.

Kent State will get a second chance to beat Miami University at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Zoeller Field.

Contact Dan Armelli at [email protected].