It took overtime, but eventually the Kent State women’s soccer team (4-2-2) was able to fend off Eastern Kentucky (0-8) on a game-winner by sophomore forward Karli Paracca.
Paracca’s overtime goal makes it her third game-winning score of her career. Having only made one start this year, she credits her teammates for keeping her mentally sharp.
“I stay mentally prepared feeding off of everyone’s energy,” Paracca said. “Especially on the sidelines, we’re all together and we all pump each other up. We’ve been trying to really focus on that this year; making sure we’re all ready, energy’s flowing and everything is positive.”
Paracca, who played a season high 50 minutes, isn’t the one who usually gets the shots. Flashes head coach Rob Marinaro showed his pride for the way she prepares.
“Karli’s just a wonderful player who works so hard. It was nice to see some of her hard work finally pay off for her tonight.”
The Flashes struggled early on, giving up the first goal of the game off a header in the 21st minute.
However, junior forward Jenna Hellstrom took advantage of a penalty kick drawn by Paracca by booting it in the net in the 34th minute. It was the fourth game in a row where Hellstrom recorded at least one point.
The rest of regulation remained scoreless, though Kent had their opportunities. This includes two headers by senior defender Madison Helterbran that couldn’t find the net. Helterbran said finishing corners is something she will continue to work on.
“I think it’s always a focus for me throughout my whole collegiate career,” she said. “That’s one of my big focuses because that’s where I can help the team the most. My teammates are putting the ball there for me so I just need to finish it of.”
Overtime didn’t last long, as Paracca sealed the win with a go in the 92nd minute.
Even with the game tied 1-1 for much of the time, the Flashes doubled the Colonels in shots on goal 12-6.
“I didn’t think we were extremely strong at our finishing today,” Marinaro said. “It took a little bit longer. But they didn’t get discouraged and they kept plugging. Sometimes you’re going to have to do that.”
Marinaro came into the day wanting to see the Flashes perform well. But he thought what he saw from his team didn’t meet his expectations.
“No, and the team knows it,” Marinaro said. “That wasn’t our strongest performance.”
However, the way the Flashes won impressed him.
“I still think we showed a lot of character being on the road, coming from behind, tying it, and finishing it off and winning it in overtime,” Marinaro said.
Kent State will look to extend their three-game winning streak as they head into Akron Friday to begin MAC play. Marinaro thinks his team is geared up for their rivals.
“I think we’ve prepared them as well as we can right now,” he said. “It’s still a process. I think we’re ready for this week.”