Women’s soccer splits weekend games in first taste of conference action

Midfielder Madison Helterbran kicks the ball down the field during the game against Bowling Green on Sunday Sept. 29, 2013. The Flashes won the game, 5-1. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Midfielder Madison Helterbran kicks the ball down the field during the game against Bowling Green on Sunday Sept. 29, 2013. The Flashes won the game, 5-1. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Richie Mulhall

After a rough 1-0 loss to Central Michigan on Friday, the Kent State women’s soccer team slowly gathered around its leader, Coach Rob Marinaro, to listen to his post-game words of wisdom.

With an air of defeat and sullenness looming about Zoeller Field, Marinaro looked at his players and told them that each one of them could have played a better game. He told his team to use the tough loss as motivation for Sunday’s game against Mid-American Conference rival Bowling Green, and the team did just that.

In what seemed like a scoring frenzy orchestrated by fluent passing and sound communication, the Flashes (6-4-0) came roaring back Sunday afternoon and thrashed the Falcons (0-8-0) 5-1 at home.

Kent State came out Sunday looking like a completely different team than it did Friday against the Chippewas (1-7-1), racking up 27 total shots and 10 shots on goal against the Falcons. Marinaro said he expected better things from the team going into Sunday’s game, and the Flashes rose to the occasion.

“I think they came out fired up,” Marinaro said. “We were fast and energetic. For the most part, it was a very good team performance, and they gave us a quality 90 minutes.”

The Flashes, who are now 1-1 against conference opponents, had a rough game Friday against Central Michigan at Zoeller Field. In the first half of regulation, the Flashes appeared disorganized and frustrated.

Senior defender Katherine Lawrence said there was a lot of confusion in the first half, and the team needed to be more organized right from the get-go.

“We need to make sure we communicate through that confusion so we can be more organized and more efficient,” Lawrence said. “It was too chaotic.”

After the Chippewas scored their goal with less than 10 minutes to go in the first half, the Flashes came out in the second half with a rejuvenated sense of urgency and created more opportunities to score, but ran out of time.

“We got caught in a lot of frustration today, and we should have been able to play through that and create something extra special,” Marinaro said. “We weren’t really productive in creating a lot of opportunities for ourselves. I think we got a lot of shots on goal and those kinds of things, but the quality of those attempts weren’t as good as we normally get.”

Kent State answered Marinaro’s call for improvement in its second MAC game of the weekend against Bowling Green and kept the Falcons on their heels the entire game.

The Flashes scored their first goal just 7:21 into the game off a Jessacca Gironda penalty shot that zoomed past the Falcons’ goalkeeper. Gironda netted two more goals to complete her hat trick in the second half thanks to two seamless passes from freshman Jenna Hellstrom.

The duo hooked up on back-to-back plays that almost seemed identical in which Hellstrom used her speed to dribble the ball past the defenders on the right side of the goal and then swiftly boot the ball to Gironda, who was waiting in front of the goal to receive the pass and sink the shot.

“(Hellstrom) did a great job today beating (the opponents) down the line, threw an excellent pass in and I just put myself in a good position, but if it wasn’t for such a great ball, I wouldn’t have been able to win it,” Gironda said.

Hellstrom kept adding more assists to her stats Sunday when she assisted seniors Jaclyn Dutton and Stephanie Haugh in their goals in the first and second half, respectively. Hellstrom said she always tries to use her speed and passing abilities to set up her teammates and help her team be successful.

“I would rather set up goals than score,” Hellstrom said. “That’s what I bring to the table.”

The players said they learned from their loss against Central Michigan, used it as motivation against Bowling Green and came out swinging Sunday in a dominating performance.

“We played our tails off in Friday’s game, and we brought that same work ethic and drive into (Sunday’s) game,” Dutton said. “We just worked on what we failed to do in Friday’s game and brought it today and we got the win we wanted to get.”

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