Soccer team looks to avenge MAC quarterfinal loss


Forward Calli Rinicella recieves a pass during the soccer game against the University at Buffalo on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. The Flashes lost, 2-0.

Jimmy Miller

Coach Rob Marinaro only has three seniors this season, but enough of his team was around for the 2014 season to end in a Mid-American Conference quarterfinal loss to make a difference this year.

The Flashes, who finished 10-7-3 last year overall and 5-4-2 in the conference, could have knocked off Ball State in the conference tournament quarterfinals but dropped a 2-0 decision. Since then, Marinaro said his players seem more engaged and hungry to make a run at the title.

“That’s something that we talk about as a whole,” Marinaro said. “They have experience with (that loss), and that’s not the experience they want to end with. I think our preparation will be better, and we’ll be hungrier at the end of the season, and (we’ll) look to end the season on a positive note.”

According to the recent conference preseason poll, the Flashes are projected to finish third in the MAC East to both Buffalo and Miami. Of course, those rankings mean little to Marinaro’s squad. 

“Our focus is always going to be and always has been what we can control, and that’s our effort, how hard we work, just showing up every game,” Marinaro said. “What a poll says doesn’t really matter to us at this point. Our intentions are to work as we possibly can.”

The Flashes return their leading scorer and most effective weapon in junior forward Jenna Hellstrom, who managed seven goals and six assists last year, both team-highs, as well as other leading scorers in senior Madison Helterbran and sophomore Karli Paracca. The team also returns midfielders Kristen Brots, a sophomore, and junior midfielders Doni Capehart and Abbie Lawson, all of whom scored multiple times last season, so the offense isn’t sparse on options—in fact, anyone who netted two or more goals for the Flashes last season is returning for 2015.

Senior Stephanie Senn is also going to be back at goalkeeper, and although the team bolsters a roster with three goalies, Senn is the clear frontrunner to take the majority of time in the net. Senn started in and played all 20 games last year, and finished with a .832 save percentage.

The team voted for captains last week, but Marinaro expects nearly all of his team—including the underclassmen, which compose nearly 73% of the squad—to step up into leadership roles.

“(Our team) is built around some speed, some athleticism, and that’s our focus is that we can use that to the best of our abilities,” Marinaro said. “Our senior leaders are going to be big leaders for us. It’s a strong group of young ladies who are steering this team in the right direction. It’s like that across the board, even with our freshmen…and that’s really crucial for our success.”

The squad’s first conference opponent is scheduled for Sept. 25, a road trip to Akron. The MAC Tournament starts Nov. 1 at a location to be decided.

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].