Women’s soccer earns overtime win against Western Michigan, falls to Eastern Michigan

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State soccer team’s crucial, game-filled weekend of Mid-American Conference competition was do or die at Zoeller Field this past weekend.

In two highly physical matchups that featured a lot of pushing and shoving, fouls and penalties, Kent State clashed with two other MAC teams each vying for a top spot in the MAC West Division.

In the first game, the Flashes defeated the Western Michigan Broncos 3-2 in one of the most dramatic games Kent State fans have seen so far this season.

After the victory, the Eastern Michigan Eagles blanked the Flashes 2-0 Sunday, Oct. 20, in a conference rivalry game that marked Kent State’s last regular season home game.

In the Flashes’ first game of the weekend against Western Michigan, it was not looking good for the home team in the first 60 minutes of regulation.

Kent State and Western Michigan each tallied seven shots, two of which were shots on goals, but the statistics of the first half were misleading.

The Broncos came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and had the Flashes on their heels for almost the entire 45 minutes of the first half.

“We weren’t expecting the physical part of the game in,” junior Stephanie Haugh said. “We overestimated them more than we had to and maybe pumped them up a little bit more.”

After Western Michigan controlled the ball for the majority of the game, Kent State finally turned it on in the last half hour of the game and assembled a strong offensive attack of its own.

“Collectively we knew we weren’t playing our best in the first half, and we knew we needed to bring it, or the result wasn’t going to be what we wanted,” senior defender Morgan Mah said. “At halftime we got recollected and we fixed our breakdowns and communication with each other.”

In an all-out race against the clock, the Flashes came roaring back late in the second half and quickened the pace of their offense to send the Broncos’ defense flying back on their heels. Mah put in a corner kick in the 65th minute to incite Kent State’s comeback.

“When you have the confidence, you can play extremely well,” said Coach Rob Marinaro. “Once you start losing that confidence, you start to make mistakes, and I think that was the telltale of today’s game.”

Just four minutes left in the game, Haugh scored a goal off a blocked shot to even the score at 2 and send the game into overtime.

“Our hopes went up in the last 15 (minutes), and we started pushing so hard,” Haugh said. “The momentum was there, and everybody was so pumped and we knew that they were already down on themselves, so it was just a matter of time.”

Despite shaky moments throughout the entire game, the Flashes rallied and captured the 3-2 comeback win just 1:22 in overtime. Freshman Jenna Hellstrom sunk her fourth goal of the season and the game-winning shot off a corner kick.

The Flashes could not seem to carry Friday’s momentum into Sunday’s contest and find the same magic that gave them their unbelievable comeback victory against Western Michigan.

In the Eastern Michigan game, Kent State fought the Eagles to a scoreless draw in the first half, but the Flashes just could not seem to get out of the starting blocks offensively.

“We just didn’t get our offense going,” Marinaro said. “We didn’t play our style of soccer and we were just trying to force a lot of things. It wasn’t a quality effort for us.”

After the Eagles scored their first goal of the game just 12 minutes into the second half, they found the back of the net in the 80th minute of regulation when a Kent State foul resulted in a penalty kick and a red card on Mah, who was forced to sit out for the remainder of the game.

With the Flashes down a player, Senn made the save on the penalty kick, but then failed to block the rebound shot that found the back of the net to give the Eagles the 2-0 shutout victory.

The Flashes will hit the road next weekend and return to action Friday and Sunday to take on Northern Illinois and Toledo, respectively.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].