Soccer team, which tied Ohio 0-0 last week, plays Bobcats again Thursday in MAC semifinals

Freshman midfielder Alisa Arthur moves the ball down the field during the Kent State soccer team’s 0-0 tie against Ohio University on Thursday Oct. 28. in Athens, Ohio. 

Cole Oswald Reporter

After winning only two games last season, the Kent State soccer team was predicted to finish ninth in the Mid-American Conference coaches’ preseason poll. 

Now the third-seeded Flashes will play in the MAC semi-finals game with a rematch against Ohio on Thursday. The game is at 7 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+. 

The Flashes went 2-5 during last year’s COVID-shortened season. This season, they are 12-4-3 and finished tied for second in the MAC with a 7-1-3 record. KSU beat Toledo 4-2 Sunday in the MAC quarterfinals.

“Obviously, the past couple of years we didn’t get the results we wanted to,” redshirt senior Karly Hellstrom said. “I think this year it’s come down to our fight and everyone’s will to battle. I’m extremely happy with the way our season has gone this year. We were thrown a lot of curveballs, and we tackled every single one of them head-on.”

“I think being ranked ninth going into the season [showed] people didn’t have a lot of faith in us. But we had faith in ourselves, and we believed in each and every one of us. I think it gives you motivation because you wanted to prove that we were a way better team, and I think we have proved that.”  

This is a different Kent State team, coach Rob Marinaro said. 

“We had players that didn’t play last year that played this year,” Marinaro said. “It’s just a different team, and everybody’s committed to doing well on the field. They’ve put together great performances, and we just love to carry that on.”

“It’s got to be a collective group effort and everybody’s got to be pulling in the same direction. We have another great opportunity on Thursday, and we need to be prepared to work as hard as we possibly can and put together a great performance.” 

Hellstrom called the season “just unbelievable.”

“The bonds that this team has are something that has been the reason for a lot of our success,” Hellstrom said. “I think that’s really something to credit to the coaches and the environment that they created. I can’t wait to go out on Thursday with our team and battle it out on the field one more time.” 

Redshirt senior forward Cameron Shedenhelm, who missed last spring while she recovered from knee surgery, leads KSU and the MAC in goals scored. Her goal against Toledo Sunday was KSU’s 41st of the season, breaking the school record.

The Flashes and Ohio tied 0-0 in the last game of the regular season, and the KSU players are ready for a rematch. 

“We had time to regroup, play a game, and get some more confidence going into the game,  especially after having four goals in a tournament game,” Shedenhelm said. “We know exactly how to play against them. We played just how we wanted to last game. We just didn’t come down and score on the opportunities that we needed to. We’re ready to go into this game and have a little bit better luck, but we’re also ready to play better.”

“This opportunity doesn’t come along for teams every year. This means a lot to all of us. We know we’re meant to be in this game. We know we have all the capabilities to win this game, and it’s a rematch. We’re all really excited for the game.” 

The winner of the KSU-Ohio game will play the winner of Bowling Green’s with Buffalo in the MAC championship at 1 p.m. Sunday and will be streamed on ESPN+. 

“As a fifth-year senior coming into this season, I couldn’t have asked for a better season to end on,” Shedenhelm said. “We’re just really excited to play for each other.” 

Cole Oswald is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].