Soccer coach keeps players guessing

Alex Atkinson

Kent State women’s soccer coach Rob Marinaro shies away from using the same starting lineup every game.

Instead, the two-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year believes making minor changes to the starting lineup, as opposed to running with the same 11 players each game, is more beneficial for the Flashes (0-1-1) and often leads to a more productive season.

“We don’t concentrate on the term ‘starting lineup,’” Marinaro said. “Like I tell the team, just because your name was called out in introductions doesn’t mean you’re on the field in the last five minutes when the game is important.”

This coaching philosophy gives Marinaro the ability to avoid labeling each player individually as a starter or a non-starter. Also, the players are forced to work together as a team and give everything they have in every practice.

“It’s important for all of them to play together and not just a set 11,” Marinaro said. “We use a lot of players in games, so they need to all learn how to work together.”

Senior forward Josee Charron said she found it was the easiest way to learn each of her teammates’ styles, and the different lineups force the players to adjust their skills in order to play with that day’s specific lineup.

“It keeps everyone on their toes,” senior midfielder Kellyn Flanagan said. “At any time you could be asked to step up, so you need to be ready to fulfill any role.”

Another positive result of not labeling starters is that the players compete every practice against each other for a chance to start against Kent State’s next opponent.

“It gives us a lot of competition in practice because you don’t know you have that starting position,” junior goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood said. “You’re always fighting every single day.”

Marinaro’s changes are not made unexpectedly minutes before the game either.

“If [the coaches] do change the lineup, we start to see changes in the beginning of the week so we are able to adjust throughout the week to prepare for the weekend games,” Sherwood said.

The team travels to Florida this weekend for its next match to take on Florida Gulf Coast University on Friday 7 p.m., in the 2010 Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic.

The Flashes wrap up the tournament against the University of Miami at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Contact sports report Alex Atkinson [email protected].