Five women’s soccer players earn All-MAC accolades

Junior forward Stephanie Haugh (left) gaurds the ball from the opponet at Kent State’s winning game against Cleveland State Friday, August 30, 2013. Photo by Hannah Shimko.

Richie Mullhal

Five Kent State soccer players were recognized Nov. 8 by the Mid-American Conference for their outstanding respective seasons and received All-MAC postseason honors.

Senior Morgan Mah was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year and achieved first team All-MAC status, and fellow senior Jessacca Gironda, whose standout season solidified her name atop the Kent State record books, was also a first team All-MAC honoree alongside her longtime teammate.

Rookie Jenna Hellstrom was named MAC Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Freshman team. Freshmen Abbie Lawson and Brittany Maisano joined their teammate by also receiving All-Freshman honors.

“Individual awards are always special, but I think it’s also great recognition for the entire team and the success that we had this year,” Coach Rob Marinaro said.

Kent State finished the season 12-7 with a 7-4 conference record. The Flashes lost to MAC rival Western Michigan in the first round of the MAC tournament Nov. 3.

The team battled the Broncos to a 1-1 tie after two scoreless overtime periods, but the fate of Kent State’s season was ultimately decided by a shootout. Western Michigan went on to top the Flashes 3-2 in penalty kicks, consequently putting a disappointing end to the Flashes’ season.

Marinaro said although the season did not end the way he and the rest of the team had hoped, there were still many individual players who had outstanding seasons in their own rights and were awarded for their efforts nonetheless.

“We’re really confident in the future and we’ll continue to build a strong program, and we got a lot of great student-athletes that will continue moving us forward,” Marinaro said.

Mah was the first player in program history to earn the Defensive Player of the Year award. She and senior teammate Katherine Lawrence led the defense this season to seven shutouts. Mah also recorded seven points, two goals and three assists on the offensive side of the ball as well.

Mah said receiving her accolade was a great way to end her season and go out “with a bang.”

“I really couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Mah said. “I know individual awards are great, but at the end of the day it is a team sport, so I owe it all to my team and to my coaches.”

Mah played midfielder before the 2013 season and opted to switch to defense this season to help meet the team’s need on defense.

“She would have preferred probably to play in the midfield, but she knew we needed her as a defensive player, and she accepted that role, and for her to finally end the season with such a recognition is really great for her,” Marinaro said.

Leading her team and the MAC in scoring this season with 33 points and 14 goals, Gironda etched her name in Kent State history books when she finished her memorable career as a Flash with a program-record 78 points and 31 goals.

Her All-MAC selection, along with her recent College Sports Information Directors of America/Capital One Academic All-District selection, is a culmination of all she has accomplished and done for Kent State soccer these past four years.

“I really believe that she should have won the (MAC) Offensive Player of the Year,” Marinaro said.

Hellstrom, who dealt with injuries at the beginning of the season, came back early enough into the season to start 15 games and rack up 15 points on five goals and five assists. She is now just the second freshman in Kent State soccer history to earn Freshman of the Year honors.

Lawson and Maisano, who both assumed starting roles in only their first seasons at Kent State, also made the All-Freshman team.

Kent State was the only MAC team to have three freshmen on the All-Freshman team, a testament to the bright future that awaits this young, up-and-coming team.

“This just shows what we have in store for the next three years, and we definitely know that one year we’re going to win the MAC, so we’re really excited about it,” Hellstrom said.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].