Soccer team begins ‘intense’ MAC play this weekend

Lance Lysowski

Last season, the Kent State soccer team started its Mid-American Conference schedule 2-0 with victories over Ohio and Akron.

This season the Flashes are hoping to get off to the same fast start, but are hoping for a better finish. After defeating the Zips, Kent State went on an eight-game winless streak.

The Flashes (4-3) host Ball State on Friday at 4 p.m. and Miami on Sunday at 1 p.m. The home contests mark chances for redemption for Kent State after the Flashes lost to both opponents last season on the road. Senior defender Megan Hill said the intensity of MAC competition is entirely different from anything the team has seen so far this season.

“With the MAC, every game you have to go out and give your best,” Hill said. “It’s the team that shows up is the team that’s going to win, so it’s just a lot more pressure.”

Ball State (2-5), a perennial MAC-title contender with regular season titles in 2006 and 2007, is currently on a two-game winning streak after losing five in a row to start the season. The Cardinals were outscored 19-4 during their losing streak and are currently winless on the road with three losses.

Unlike the Flashes, Ball State has struggled defensively. The Cardinals have registered 3.29 goals against average and have used two different goalkeepers.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said the Flashes need to be ready for this weekend’s games, but the conference schedule is a long haul.

“It’s playing all eleven teams so it’s one game at a time, so we need to come out on Friday and give it our best effort,” Marinaro said.

The Flashes’ opponent Sunday, the RedHawks, have played well defensively so far this season. Miami (4-3) has allowed 0.86 goals against per game and like the Flashes, have a backline led by a strong goalkeeper. Senior goalkeeper Krista Pace has shutdown Miami’s opposition with 26 saves and two shutouts.

Hill said Miami plays a similar style to Kent State, but the Flashes will just have to stick to their game to come out on top.

“We both have strong defenses, but we have a good offense so we look to play in with them and connect with them,” Hill said. “Just break them down and score some goals.”

The Flashes are looking to improve their home record, which fell to 1-3 after the team’s 2-0 loss last Friday against Michigan State.

“We know how to play on our home field so that’s an advantage,” Hill said. “It’s our home field, we have to defend it and just come out with the win.

Marinaro said the team’s leadership and training this week have prepared the Flashes for the conference play coming up.

“I think it’s just the intensity of our training level and make sure that carries into the weekend,” Marinaro said. “Our leadership has basically let the team know how important everything is going into this weekend, and they’ve done a great job in their training sessions this week.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].