Win streak ends for soccer

Lance Lysowski

Offense falters against Michigan State for first defeat in four games

Senior defender Megan Hill corrals the ball away from a Michigan State player during Friday’s game at the Kent State Soccer Field. The Flashes lost 2-0. Dana Beveridge | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

One streak ended for the Kent State soccer team on Friday, while another one continued.

The Flashes (4-3) failed to win their fourth game in a row, losing to Michigan State 2-0 while extending the program’s winless streak against the Big Ten Conference to 11 games.

Kent State’s defense met its match Friday against the Spartans’ duo of senior forward Lauren Hill and sophomore forward Laura Heyboer. The tandem challenged the Flashes’ backline throughout the first half.

Kent State’s defense held off the offensive pressure until Heyboer connected on junior forward Cara Freeman’s pass for the one-timer goal 20 minutes into the game.

“They had the two up top (Hill and Heyboer), so whenever the other one had the ball we kind of had to box out the other one,” sophomore defender Vanessa Salerno said. “We let one of them free, they did a little one-two and they got it in.”

The Flashes started the first half pressuring Michigan State (6-0-1). Junior forward Kelly Heaton received an opportunity on a corner kick, but the Spartans’ counterattack lasted the entire first half. Sophomore goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood made four saves in the first half and a total of nine on the game.

When the Flashes attempted to transition to offense, the defense was on their heels as Michigan State’s 4-4-2 lineup took time to adjust to, Heaton said.

“We just practiced it all week, and we just weren’t used to it and had to adjust to it,” Heaton said. “It took us the first half, but second half we started to get used to it so we’ll be prepared for (the Mid-American Conference).”

The Flashes went into halftime down 1-0 with only recorded one shot on goal. Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said he was impressed with his team’s defense in the first half and felt the offense came out stronger following the break.

“I think we built a little confidence after halftime that we could go ahead and put more pressure on them,” Marinaro said. “This is a team with their athleticism, the more space you get, the more speed they dig up, so we looked to close off a lot of the gaps.”

The Spartans limited the Flashes’ opportunities to only two shots on goal the entire game. Michigan State continued their offensive assault, but Sherwood continued to anchor Kent State’s defense.

The sophomore’s fingertip save on a Spartan free kick minutes into the start of the second half highlighted her performance and kept the Flashes within one.

“Sherwood is amazing,” Heaton said. “Everyone has complete confidence in her, and we know that she controls the whole game in the back for us.”

Michigan State sealed the game in the 83rd minute when senior midfielder Lauren Sinocola’s corner kick was one-timed past Sherwood by freshman midfielder Jordan Mueller. While Kent State came up short Friday, Marinaro said the game served as a good preparation for things to come.

“Their runs, the athleticism of their players – it gave us a much better look of what we need to prepare ourselves for and how we need to sharpen ourselves as we look to compete next weekend in-conference,” Marinaro said.

The Flashes begin conference play next weekend with two home contests against Ball State on Friday and Miami on Sunday.

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected]