Soccer team wraps up regular season at Buffalo

Lance Lysowski

Flashes look to improve their tournament seed with victory over Bulls

The Kent State soccer team had two games slip away last weekend, but the Flashes (7-8-2, 3-5-2 Mid-American Conference) have clinched a spot in the conference tournament.

The Flashes, currently eighth in the MAC, will travel to Buffalo (3-14-1, 2-7-1 MAC) to try to improve their odds in the upcoming postseason tournament. With a win tomorrow over the Bulls and a Western Michigan loss or tie against Northern Illinois, Kent State will surpass the Broncos as the tournament’s seventh seed.

Even though the Flashes are tournament-bound regardless of Thursday’s outcome, a victory at Buffalo would help the Flashes’ chances in the postseason.

Sophomore defender Vanessa Salerno said beating the Bulls is important because of the Flashes’ reluctance to face Central Michigan (14-3-1, 9-0-1 MAC), the tournament’s No. 1 seed.

The Chippewas are the heavy favorite after clinching the MAC regular season championship, posting 12 shutouts in a row.

“We’d rather play Eastern Michigan, or the second seed than the first seed, so that’s definitely going to be in the back of our heads,” Salerno said. “It would be nice if we played (Central Michigan) in the tournament and knocked them out, but it would be more comforting to play the second-place team.”

Buffalo, which has lost four games in a row, has been outscored 31-11 this season, as well as outshot regularly by their opponents.

“(This) game is really important for us, so you know it’s coming out and trying to pick up the intensity of where we were probably mid-season,” Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said. “We need to see that fight back again, and we’re looking forward to recapturing that on Thursday. This is a wonderful team, with a high work rate and a true desire to succeed.”

Kent State has struggled lately, riding a five game winless streak. Last season, the Flashes ended a similar winless streak of eight games against the Bulls.

The Flashes have put regular pressure on their opponents, with 80 corner kicks on the season and outshooting all of their opponents during their winless streak besides Friday’s game against Ohio (12-12 tie). Unfortunately for the Flashes, their chances have not translated into points.

“In training, we’re just picking up the intensity and any loose balls; we have to be the first ones there,” Salerno said. “We can’t be discouraged if we keep missing, we just have to keep looking forward.”

The MAC Tournament begins Nov. 1, with the top four seeds hosting their opponents in the first round.

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].