Late comeback propels KSU soccer past Huskies

Matt Lofgren

Four minutes was all it took for the Kent State soccer team’s day to go from disappointing to improbable success.

With the help of an 86th minute goal by freshman Stephanie Haugh to tie the game and an 87th minute goal by junior Vanessa Salerno, the Flashes (9-5, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) were able to take a 3-2 victory over Northern Illinois (2-10, 1-5).

“Tremendous finish, to put that much pressure on a team and then to find a way to pull off the last two goals to take the victory, I found myself just kind of being a spectator there and really enjoying it,” Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said. “You have got to give our kids a lot of credit to battle through and believe that they could pull it off.”

When Haugh scored the equalizing goal, the Flashes coaching staff scrambled to come up with a plan for what most thought was an inevitable overtime period. But there was one person on the field who knew that extra would not be needed.

“There was not a doubt in my mind (that we would get it done in regulation),” Salerno said. “I think we all looked down, but in the back of our heads there was no way that we were going to let those two goals, that shouldn’t have happened at all, to ruin our game.”

The two goals Salerno talked about were scored in the 46th and 49th minute of the game, just after half time. For a short time, it appeared that the Huskies had taken the wind out of the Flashes sail, but the team kept its composure.

“I really think the first five minutes of the second half we need to do a lot better. I discussed that with the team and we can’t allow to a team to take over like that,” Marinaro said. “What we did really well was manage to regroup and take the game over from there on out and they pulled it off. I think right now it’s just the belief that they could do it.”

Sunday’s game was huge for Salerno, who had a hand in every goal the Flashes scored, including two assists and the game winner from Megan Repas.

“Repas was throwing it in and basically part of the play is to find me for a flick,” Salerno said. “It was an awesome throw right to my head and I just flicked it in.”

Repas was a part of the action during the game as well as she scored the game’s first goal in the 30th minute. She knows just how quickly this game could have had a completely different ending if the team couldn’t execute.

“I think we learned a lot from Friday, our energy and everything went down and we just couldn’t pick it back up,” Repas said. “We definitely picked it back up when we went down today and it really showed.”   

On Friday, the Flashes fell to a tough Western Michigan squad 2-0. The game was a tough loss for the team because physically they were with the Broncos but just couldn’t finish the job.

“It just wasn’t our best performance, something that we talk about that in this conference you need to give your absolute best and I think we worked hard, we just weren’t very smart as a unit,” Marinaro said.

The Flashes will travel to Toledo on Friday for a 4 p.m. match and then Sunday to Ball State for a 1 p.m. start. The team will return home on Friday Oct. 21 to take on rival Akron at 4 p.m.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] and @gonzoEdu.