Flashes wrap up nonconference season in Indiana

Alex Atkinson

After playing Miami from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pittsburgh from the Big East, the Kent State soccer team will play another power-conference team this weekend: Indiana. The Flashes (1-2-2) will meet the Hoosiers (3-4-0) at 7:30 p.m. today.

“It is definitely exciting to be able to play against a Big Ten school, as this does not happen too often during a season,” senior forward Josee’ Charron said. “I am a bit nervous, but I feel confident in our abilities as a team right now heading into the game.”

Junior goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood said she enjoys playing on the bigger stage.

“Games like these really get us pumped up because you want to prove yourself as a team,” Sherwood said.

The Flashes hope to add to Indiana’s current three-game home losing streak. But the Hoosiers’ offense will still be a challenge to maintain. The team is currently fifth in the Big Ten with 17.1 shots per game, while the Flashes average 13.4 shots per game.

The Weekend

• Kent State (1-2-2) at Indiana (3-4-0)

Where: Armstrong Stadium

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

• Kent State (1-2-2) at IUPUI (2-5-0)

Where: Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium

When: Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

The Flashes’ primary concern will be on the Hoosiers’ forward Orianica Velasquez. The sophomore averages nearly six shots per game, which is more than twice the number of Kent State’s leading shooter Kelly Heaton, who averages 2.4 shots per game.

“We’ll try to keep a closer eye on (Velasquez),” Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said. “We don’t necessarily change what we’re looking at doing just to close them down, but we’re giving our players the keys, and they’re doing their best in our formations to close their players down.”

Marinaro said he uses two different formations, and he will decide which formation gives the team the best opportunity for a win.

Sherwood said the Flashes will try to limit the number of opportunities for Velasquez, who has three goals through seven games.

“We’re just trying to deny any entry (passes) into their forwards so that (Velasquez) won’t have anything to play with,” Sherwood said. “So if the ball gets into there, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her.”

Though the defense gained added attention for this game, the Flashes’ offense will also play an important role this weekend. Kent State will challenge Indiana with its own attacking threat. Freshman forward Jessacca Gironda currently leads the Mid-American Conference in goals with four goals in five games.

“We need to keep the ball in our offensive third so we limit the number of touches their offense has,” Gironda said.

After senior midfielder Kellyn Flanagan’s game-winning goal in the 79th minute against Florida Gulf Coast and Gironda’s equalizing goal in the 89th minute on Sunday at Pittsburgh, the Flashes hope to continue their clutch performances.

“We’ve played some tough teams, but we’ve shown a lot of fight on our team just not quitting till the last minute,” Sherwood said.

After Indiana, Kent State will face IUPUI tomorrow at 1 p.m. to wrap up its non-conference schedule.