Women’s soccer seniors bring strong sense of leadership to budding program


Freshman forward, Morgan Williams gains possession of the ball in Kent State’s game against Cleveland State on Friday, August 30. The flashes won the game 1-0. Photo by Rachael Le Goubin.

Richie Mulhall

A team is only as good as its strongest leader, and the Kent State women’s soccer team has eight of them.

This season, the Flashes’ eight seniors have worked together each and every day to help the team continue forward and pave the way for future senior leaders on the team. On a soccer team of 21 players, leadership is key to a progressing team, and head coach Rob Marinaro said he thinks his players have what it takes this season to lead the Flashes in the right direction.

“They are a tremendous, successful group of young ladies, and they have set the tone for this program,” Marinaro said. “I love coaching them because every time we challenge them, they meet those expectations, and that’s a great quality to have from your senior leadership.”

Marinaro called this elite group of seniors a “selfless, caring group that gives a lot to (its) teammates,” and he said he is going to miss them each individually when they graduate at the end of the season.

Each of the seniors set high standards for themselves and work to achieve those standards for the betterment of not only themselves, but as members of a unit with the same goal of winning a Mid-American Conference Championship this season.

Jaclyn Dutton

Position: Forward

Hometown: Bridgeport, Ohio

High School: St. Clairville/Clemson

Major: Communication studies

Goals after college: Dutton is currently looking at a couple health communication jobs in Charleston, S.C. She also hopes to marry her fiancé after college as well.

Inspirational athlete: Alex Morgan — Soccer forward for National Women’s Soccer League club Portland Thomas FC and the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Favorite Memory of Kent State Soccer: MAC tournament semi-final victory over Ball State last season.

What soccer means to Jaclyn: “Soccer has really been a huge part of my life. I’ve always said soccer defines who I am at this point in my life. It has definitely helped me grow and become the person I am today with all the challenges and wins and losses I’ve fought through.”

Jessacca Gironda

Position: Forward/midfielder

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

High School: Archbishop Hoban

Major: Business management

Goals after college: Gironda will take the LSAT in October to try to get into law school.

Inspirational athlete: Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos quarterback

What soccer means to Jaclyn: Her first collegiate goal as a freshman

What has it been like to play under Coach Marinaro’s leadership: “I think it’s been an awesome experience. I think I’ve learned a lot over my four years and continue to grow. I’ve had a few ups and downs and a few pretty major injuries and minor injuries over my four years, and I think (Marinaro) has always been very supportive and believed in me regardless of if I wasn’t 100 percent.”

Julie Keslar

Position: Goalkeeper

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

High School: Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy

Major: Nursing

Goals after college: Keslar hopes to some day become a midwife and bring babies into the world.

Inspirational athlete: Her teammates

Favorite memory of Kent State soccer: Winning the MAC East Championship sophomore season in 2011.

What it has been like to play as a fifth-year senior: “I am a super senior, so I am a fifth-year senior, so there was one year I was without [the other seniors]. It was a pretty rough year, but as soon as that freshman class came in, things started changing for the soccer program. It’s been a crazy ride with these seven girls, but I wouldn’t change it.”

Megan Jackson

Position: Midfielder

Hometown: Medina, Ohio

High School: Cloverleaf

Major: Early childhood education

Goals after College: Jackson hopes to become a teacher and work in the same district as her mother, who is also a teacher. She aspires to be a coach some day as well.

What athlete inspires you the most as a student-athlete?: Mia Hamm – retired American professional soccer player

What is your favorite memory of Kent State soccer?: “All the good times I’ve had with my teammates.”

What does soccer mean to you?: “It’s the biggest part of my life. My mom being a single mom, it’s really good for her now because it got me through school and paid for my college.”

Megan Johnson

Position: Defender

Hometown: Erie, Pa.

High School: McDowell

Major: Visual Communication Design

Goals after College: Johnson wants to pursue something in advertising or magazines where she can apply her VCD skills to her work.

What athlete inspires you the most as a student-athlete?: Roger Federer – Swiss professional tennis player

What is your favorite memory of Kent State soccer?: Winning the MAC East Championship

Do you have any individual goals for yourself, either on or off the field?: “I’m starting again this year, so I just want to keep up that position and keep starting and playing as much as I am now.”

Katherine Lawrence

Position: Defender

Hometown: Ajax, Ontario

High School: Pickering

Major: Business Administration and management

Goals after College: Lawrence plans to attend graduate school, where she will pursue her dream of becoming an athletic director some day.

How old were you when you first started playing soccer?: 4

What is your favorite memory of Kent State soccer?: Winning the MAC East Championship

Do you think that having eight seniors on the team makes leadership better and easier?: “Yeah because coach this one time, he said, ‘You guys don’t all have to lead at the same time.’ And a lot of us get significant minutes, so that definitely helps in terms of leading the team and setting a high standard.”

Morgan Mah

Position: Defender

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta

High School: St. Francis Xavier

Major: Zoology

Goals after College: Mah wants to do something with animal rehabilitation after college.

What athlete inspires you the most as a student-athlete?: Lionel Messi – Argentine footballer

What is your favorite memory of Kent State soccer?: Winning the MAC East Championship in 2011 and beating Akron in double overtime last season

Do you think that having eight seniors on the team makes leadership better and easier?: “I definitely think it makes it a lot easier because it’s not so much pressure on one or two individuals. It’s spread amongst the eight of us, and our underclassmen can look up to each and every single one of us for leadership. Every one us has a different viewpoint and we add different perspectives (to the team).”

Shelby Simmons

Position: Forward/defender

Hometown: Strongsville, Ohio

High School: Strongsville

Major: Communication

Goals after College: Simmons plans on going to Abu Dhabi for two or three years for marketing.

What athlete inspires you the most as a student-athlete?: Hines Ward – Former American football wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers

What is your favorite memory of Kent State soccer?: The long trips with teammates to away games

What has it been like for you to play with these other seniors for so many years?: “I love it. I grew these four years closer to my eight seniors. I think we’re all really close-knit, and that’s the best part about Kent State soccer in general.”

Richie Mulhall is the women’s soccer reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].