Flashes take win streak on the road

Lance Lysowski

Soccer team hopes to stay MAC undefeated against Mich. teams

The Kent State Soccer team started its Mid-American Conference schedule at 2-0 for the second year in row last weekend. This time around, the Flashes are hoping for a better result for the rest of the MAC season.

The Flashes went on an eight-game winless streak before defeating Buffalo to end the season, but senior defender Beth Diederich said this year the team is primed for a different result.

“We realize that winning two games doesn’t mean that you’re secure for the season, especially in the MAC,” Diederich said. “We know that each game is going to be a struggle. We’re keeping our heads small; we’re down to earth, and we know we have to work just as hard, if not harder this week.”

Kent State (6-3, 2-0 MAC) will travel to Central Michigan (7-3, 2-0) on Friday and Eastern Michigan (4-2-4, 0-0-2) on Sunday. The Flashes currently hold an undefeated record on the road with a victory at Youngstown State and two victories on neutral turf at the University of New Mexico Nike Classic against Tulsa and Cal State Northridge.

With fall arriving, Kent State has a new challenge to fend off: inclement weather. Throughout the week, the Flashes have practiced in cold, rainy conditions that Diederich said will prepare the team for this weekend’s set of games.

“We’ve had the weather to fight with all week practicing, but at least it gets us used to it,” Diederich said. “It’s a really tough mental game. We know, especially in the MAC, winning is the No. 1 priority, and we’ve been doing well with that so far, so we just need to keep it up.”

On Friday, the Flashes will travel to Central Michigan to match up against the MAC leading Chippewas.

Central Michigan, undefeated at home at 4-0, is balanced with a 1.70 goals scored per game average and a defense paced by junior goalkeeper Shay Mannino. The junior boasts a 0.92 goals against average with five shutouts on the season.

Kent State looks to match up against Central Michigan’s balanced play with a defense led by sophomore goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood, last week’s co-MAC player of the week. Sherwood’s four shutouts rank second in the conference.

Additionally, the offense showed increased potency with a four-goal victory over Ball State last Friday with consistency being seen across the board.

Central Michigan, the only other MAC team undefeated in conference play, comes into Friday’s game with the other co-MAC player of the week, senior forward Molly Gerst, whose hat trick last Friday against Ohio earned her the honor.

Gerst and freshman midfielder Laura Twidle, who has five goals and two assists on the season, will look to challenge the Flashes’ stout defense, which has allowed 0.78 goals per game.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said the goal for this weekend is to be successful.

“(These are) another two MAC games that are very important, and we’re going in looking to do our best,” Marinaro said.”(The goal is) to keep the intensity level in our training sessions so it carries onto the weekend.”

Kent State will face a different challenge on Sunday when they travel to Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have struggled defensively, but have been kept competitive by strong play from their keepers. Junior goalkeeper Maggie Manville and her counterpart, junior Monique Budani, are first and second respectively in the conference for save percentage, while making the second-most saves with 67.

The Eagles have played to a draw three games in a row, including a tie against undefeated Michigan State.

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].