There’s no place like home


Senior forward Jessacca Gironda drives the ball for Kent State on Sept. 29, 2013, against Bowling Green. Gironda scored her season high of three goals, leading the Flashes to a winning score of 5-1.

Ben Orner

After five games on the road, the Kent State soccer team will return home to Zoeller Field for a four-game home stand, two of which will be this Friday and Sunday against Oakland University and Eastern Kentucky University, respectively.

The Flashes (4-2) last played at home Aug. 29, when they opened their season with a 3-0 win over Western Illinois. Since then, they went on a five-game road trip in which they posted a 3-2 record, including a win over No. 24 Colorado in a tournament in Las Vegas.

To break down the road trip, Kent State opened with a loss against St. Bonaventure, tallied three consecutive 1-0 victories and lost its most recent game to Louisville on Sunday.

During the Las Vegas tournament, freshman forward Karli Paracca scored her first and second career goals, leading her team to a pair of victories. The freshman has only played one game at Zoeller Field but said the home atmosphere makes all the difference.

“The environment and the energy from the crowd and from the team are great to feed off of,” Paracca said. “Seeing all our family members and fans come out and during the game cheering us on — it definitely pumps us up and gets more energy on the field.”

Fellow forward and sophomore Jenna Hellstrom said it’s more than just the fans that give her team a home field advantage.

“It’s good to play back at home, get good rest, sleep in our own beds and eat well,” she said.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro is more focused on his players than the opposition during the upcoming home stand.

“Right now our focus is still on what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re still trying to improve our game.”

Marinaro complimented both Oakland and Eastern Kentucky as teams that are willing to “grit it out,” something Louisville did all too well against the Flashes this past Sunday.

The Cardinals came back from a 2-0 deficit at halftime to win 3-2 in the second minute of overtime.

“We’ve got to learn to leave that one behind,” Marinaro said.

Hellstrom echoed Marinaro’s sentiments, referencing the productivity of this week’s practice in preparation of this weekend’s games.

“This week’s practices have been pretty good,” she said. “We bounce back pretty quick.”

On Friday at 4 p.m., Kent State will face the Grizzlies, who are currently 1-7, with their last game resulting in a 5-1 loss to Air Force. They have been outscored 17-6 so far this season.

While the team appears to struggle in the scoring department, Oakland has many scorers, as five different players have scored this year, despite the low number of team goals. Oakland is 0-5 in away games this season.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., the Flashes will play a slightly tougher opponent in Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels are 2-5 overall and 1-3 on the road. They are currently riding a five-game losing streak with a game against Cleveland State on Friday as their only game before traveling to Kent State.

Eastern Kentucky is also an inconsistent team, a team identity for Kent State to keep a close eye on this weekend. In the Colonels’ home opener, they beat Alabama A&M, 7-0, but lost to Cincinnati, 9-0, two games later.

Contact Ben Orner at [email protected].