Freshmen make their mark on the soccer team

Alex Atkinson

Transitioning from high school studies to college work can be stressful. Add the transition of going from high school athletics to Division I soccer makes the move even tougher.

Eight freshmen on the Kent State soccer team are working through the process of managing college courses in addition to daily three-hour practices.

“It’s really difficult,” defender Morgan Mah said. Mah has taken three shots and added an assist this season. “I schedule what times I’m going to study, what time I’m going to eat lunch and so on.”

As for the game itself, the intensity is magnified from high school.

Recalling her high school days, defender Megan Johnson said, “We had preseason. We had intense practices. But the intensity level wasn’t as high as it is here.”

Johnson has played in three games this season and started twice.

“There’s no day to slack off,” she said. “You constantly have to give it your all. Every team we play is really good. There’s no break.”

The Game

Kent State (1-2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-4-0)

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: North Allegheny High School, Pittsburgh

Mah, Johnson and forward Jessacca Gironda, who leads the team with three goals scored, agreed the bond on the field is stronger than what they had on their high school teams.

“There’s more support here,” Johnson said.

“When someone is having a bad practice or just not having a good day, someone is always there to pick them up,” Mah said.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said he is pleased so far with his strong group of freshmen.

“They come with a lot of soccer experience, either through their club teams or through the systems they’ve gone through,” Marinaro said. “So for them to come in and step into this environment, they’ve done a really nice job. We’ll continue to get better with them and we’ll continue to grow as an entire program.”

Despite the business and added stress, these athletes still love the sport.

“It’s still fun,” Johnson said. “Soccer has always been a job in some aspects just because it’s always taking up so much of my time, but it’s always been fun.”

This weekend, the freshmen will look to help Kent State as the Flashes travel to Pittsburgh at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Alex Atkinson at [email protected].