Kent State soccer not overlooking EKU

Freshman+defender+from+the+Flashes+Paige+Culver+kicks+the+ball+in+a+game+against+CSU+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+13%2C+2015.

Freshman defender from the Flashes Paige Culver kicks the ball in a game against CSU on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.

Dan Armelli

The Kent State women’s soccer team focuses on its game against the 0-7 Eastern Kentucky team Sept. 18 even with MAC play starting next week against rival Akron. 

“It’s about our performance,” head coach Rob Marinaro said. “We said it right at the very beginning when we played Maryland to any team that we played. I don’t really care who we’re playing. It’s about our performance.”

Junior forward Jenna Hellstrom echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“We have to come out hard no matter what their record is,” she said. “This is a good opportunity to show everything we’ve done in practice. So we can’t take them lightly.”

The Flashes are 3-2-2 heading into their match Friday afternoon in Richmond, Kentucky against the Colonels. The player who has been in goal for each of Kent’s wins, freshman Ashleah McDonald, says she’s working to maintain her role as the team’s goalkeeper.

“Given the fact that most of our goalkeepers are injured, it’s kind of obvious that I’m going to be coming out fine and working my ass off,” McDonald said. 

With senior Stephanie Senn and sophomore Katie Kingsbury nursing injuries, McDonald says she still wants to be the one in goal when everyone is healthy.

“I’ve been working every day to get better and push myself so I can be the number one goalkeeper starting every game,” she said.

Marinaro hinted there was a chance for the freshman to keep her spot down the road.

“I think it will be a healthy competition,” he said. “I think right now we just need to get everybody healthy. As we get healthy players, we allow them to compete. Whoever’s competing the best will play in that game.”

McDonald has played in 452 of the team’s 670 minutes this year. In those minutes she has been one of Division 1’s better goalies in terms of save percentage, in which she is 20th in the nation (.893).

McDonald and the Flashes’ defense has been on a roll, only allowing one goal in two games last weekend and only giving up as many as two goals in one contest. Junior defender Brittany Maisano says communication has been the key to limiting opponent goals.

“We have a couple of newer people playing defense. (We) just work great and keep organized to make sure we know who’s pressuring and who’s stepping,” Maisano said.

At the same time, Maisano says the defense could still improve its communication.

“We keep talking about (communication) with coach,” Maisano said. “We can always work on communication. We can always improve our work rate, our passing and just getting the ball up the field — even though we’re in the defense — to make more offensive runs.”

Kent State beat Eastern Kentucky 3-0 last year at Zoeller Field. They will face off on Friday at 4 pm in Richmond.

Hellstrom named MAC player of the week

Junior forward Jenna Hellstrom was named MAC offensive player of the week for her performances at Butler and against Cleveland State last weekend.

In games which the Flashes won a combined 4-1, Hellstrom put her mark on three of the four goals, attaining five points for the weekend. Seven games into the season, her point total stands at 15, tied for 13th in the nation.

Other categories that Hellstrom is near the top amongst Division 1 women’s soccer players include:

  • Tied for 12th in assists per game (0.71)

  • Tied for fifth in game-winning goals (3)

  • 13th in points per game (2.14)

  • Eighth in total assists (5)

Hellstrom is a former MAC Freshman of the Year and led the Flashes in goals last year as a sophomore, resulting in a First Team All-MAC selection. Beyond the talent, Marinaro said Hellstrom is supported by her teammates.

“Jenna’s tenacity and work rate is just phenomenal,” Marinaro said. “Her success is a byproduct of what we do as a team. I think that she gets the accolades because she’s the goal-scorer. But I think she would even say she wouldn’t be able to do it without her teammates and how well her teammates are doing for her and the entire team.”

Unprompted, Hellstrom held the same beliefs.

“I think it has to do with my teammates,” Hellstrom said. “They’ve done a lot, push me everyday in practice. Coaches obviously had a big part of that. Whenever something’s not going right they kept pushing me to do better.”

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