Women’s soccer early season still a work in progress

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 Mulhall

The onset of fall heralds a fresh new season for the Kent State women’s soccer team and for any collegiate sports team, the beginning of the season can be a work in progress.

After the Flashes put all the hard work and practice in before the season starts, it becomes crucial to kick the season off on the right foot. Head coach Rob Marinaro said he believes his team is doing just that.

“I think we’re progressing nicely,” Marinaro said. “We’re not where we need to be at the moment, but we continue to get better every time we come out.”

The Flashes (4-2-0), who are just coming off of a 1-0 win against the College of Charleston Sunday, have been on a bit of a hot streak, winning three out of their last four games. Marinaro said he is happy to see his team making great strides but still stressed the need for improvement.

“With a 4-2 start we’ve had a couple of hiccups, but that’s going to happen,” Marinaro said. “As long as we’re learning from our games when we’re not successful, that’s what you can ask for when you’re a coach.”

Despite the Flashes’ winning record, the offense has had a difficult time scoring over the course over the past five games, wherein the team that scored the first goal of the game claimed victory.

The offense has topped its opponents in corner kicks (46-17) shots (87-71) and shots on goal (32-30) so far this season but can’t seem to find the back of the net at times.

“We’ve always prided ourselves in our offense, and we will continue to do so,” Marinaro said. “We just need to get them rolling and the goals will come.”

If the Flashes can keep pulling out clutch victories, though, lack of scoring may not be an issue. Senior defender Morgan Mah said her team is a “grinding team that fights to the very last minute.”

She said her team’s grittiness and aggressive play helps them prevail in those close games that could go either way.

“At this point our offense is giving us those goals when it’s crunch time and giving us results, so we’ll look to continue to see if we can create more opportunities and finish off on them,” Marinaro said.

So far this season, the team’s best offense is its good defense. Defensively, the Flashes have shut down their opponents and given up six total goals, only allowing one goal per game on average.

There have only been two games in which Kent State’s defense has given up more than one goal.

Senior defender Katherine Lawrence, who was named to the All-Tournament team at the College of Charleston Cup Sunday, said the defense’s main goal is to aim for a shutout every game. Although Marinaro said that goal is not particularly realistic, he said that the defense has done a excellent job defensively because they have come close to its goal by recording three shutouts in their past three victories.

Lawrence attributed the defense’s success to its effective ability to communicate both on and off the field. She said good communication and building relationships with teammates are key elements of protecting the net during tight game situations.

“We just try to stay tight and compact and communicate as much as possible,” Lawrence said. “We just make sure we’re on the same page before the game, and we build trust with each other on and off the field.”

The Flashes have incorporated many new faces to the team’s system this season. Marinaro said the senior leaders need to take the reigns and help the young players blossom so that the team can keep moving forward.

“It’s still early on in the season, but it’s coming together,” Lawrence said about the team. “We’re seeing how players are starting to click with each, people are starting to understand their roles and their positions and what they can do to affect the game.”

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected] .