Resurgent offense has soccer just out of first place in MAC

Redshirt senior Karly Hellstrom (23) dribbles the ball toward the goal during the soccer game against Ball State University on Oct. 17, 2021.

Cole Oswald Reporter

The Kent State soccer team’s improved offense has the Flashes contending for a Mid-American Conference championship.  

The Flashes have scored 11 goals in a four-game winning streak that has pushed them to a second-place tie with Bowling Green in the MAC. The Flashes are 6-1-1 and have 19 points, just behind Ohio, which is 6-0-2 with 20 points. Kent State will meet Ohio in the final game of the season on Oct. 28 at Ohio.

Kent State (10-4-1) will play Central Michigan (7-7, 4-4) at home at 7 p.m. Thursday and at Eastern Michigan (2-10-3, 1-5-2) on Sunday. 

Ohio plays the same two teams this weekend. 

This weekend the Flashes beat Miami (7-6-3, 4-4) 3-2 on Thursday and Ball State (4-8-2, 2-4-2) 3-0 on Sunday. The Flashes have scored three goals in each of their last three games after averaging 1.4 goals in their first five MAC games. 

“It took us a while but once they found the rhythm of it, we started getting it behind them and scored some really nice opportunities,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “They did a really nice job.” 

On Thursday, sophomore midfielder Giulia Giovinazzi kicked a game-tying goal with just two seconds left after an assist from sophomore defender Dalaney Ranallo. Four minutes into overtime, senior defender Tianna Harris headed in a corner kick from redshirt senior defender Karly Hellstrom to give Kent State the win.

KSU redshirt senior forward Cameron Shedenhelm scored KSU’s first goal, becoming the eighth player in Kent State history to score 20 career goals. 

On Sunday, the Flashes took a 1-0 lead on a Hellstrom goal 12 minutes into the game. Twenty-six minutes later, a Ball State player kicked the ball into a referee and was ejected from the game. A BSU assistant coach was also ejected after arguing the call. Ball State had to play with 10 players for the rest of the game. 

“It was a bit of a chaotic start,” Marinaro said. “I was just trying to get the team to settle down and get in and play our rhythm of game. It took us a while to do that, but we came out with a win and tried to keep ourselves mentally focused on just playing the game without all the other stuff that was going on.” 

Redshirt sophomore forward Lauryn Arruda added to the Flashes’ lead at the 72-minute mark with an assist from Giovinazzi. Shedenhelm sealed the game with seven minutes left with an assist from senior forward Khyla Porter. 

“They did a fantastic job and celebrated the seniors the right way,” Marinaro said. “They deserve a victory and it’s a great team win.” 

The Ball State offense took 22 shots, 12 on goal, without scoring. 

“Defensively, I thought we were strong all game long,” Marinaro said. “We were giving them a little bit too much space at times. I don’t know if when they went down, we felt we kinda had it under control, but we need to be doing better team defense and pressuring the ball. The back four and goalkeeping were really solid today.” 

Marinaro said the Flashes need to maintain concentration going into their last three games.

“We’re just focused on one game at a time,” Marinaro said. “We took care of today, we’ll recover and celebrate our seniors,  then it’s back to work.” 

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