‘You see the whole field in front of you’

Lance Lysowski

Sherwood leading KSU soccer team in her sophomore season

Kelly Sherwood crouches 10 feet out of her net, her eyes fixed on the ball as it leaves the opposing player’s foot. The ball streaks toward the empty section of netting to her left. The sophomore extends her body and dives, directing the ball away from the goal.

It’s just another day between the posts for the Kent State soccer team’s goalkeeper.

Sherwood, who sat out the 2007 campaign with a redshirt, got the call as the starter last season when then-starter senior Kris Nelson was injured. She went on to start 12 games with a record of 6-6 and a 1.72 goals against average. Sherwood said Nelson was always there for her when she got the call as the starter.

“She helped me out,” Sherwood said. “Even when she was sitting out in practice, she’d be there helping me out.”

Senior midfielder Catharine Marosszeky described the sophomore in one word: charismatic. She said Sherwood has formed great relationships with her teammates while earning the trust of everyone with her play.

“At the end of the day, if the other team breaks our defense, it’s the goalkeeper who has to make the save, and I guess nine times out of 10 she makes it,” Marosszeky said. “She basically breaks up everything that the other team tries to create on her.”

This season, Sherwood has been the anchor of a Flashes’ defense that has allowed an average of one goal a game and held its own against offensive juggernauts such as Michigan State. Kent State assistant coach Abby Richter, who oversees the development of Sherwood and the team’s other keepers, said the experience the sophomore gained last season has put her in position to succeed.

“She stepped into a role when our other keeper got injured, and any time you can get experience, she is using that this year,” Richter said. “She leads by her play.”

Sherwood’s goals against average has improved dramatically from 1.72 to 0.95 through seven games this season. The team has been gifted with highlight-reel saves such as the breakaway stop Sherwood made against Cleveland State on Aug. 28 and a fingertip save on a free kick against Michigan State on Sept. 18. Marosszeky said Sherwood continues to amaze her with her consistent game-changing saves.

“I think the skill that she has and goalkeepers have is always a little bit more spectacular. It’s kind of like when a forward makes a scissor kick or when a midfielder makes an unbelievable slide tackle,” Marosszeky said. “It’s like that moment your heart kind of stops and you wonder what’s going to happen.

“And it always happens every time she makes one of those saves where you kind of lose your breath for a second.”

Sherwood has made save after save to keep Kent State competitive. Making spectacular saves aside, Sherwood brings an immeasurable quality to the Flashes: leadership. Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said the keeper leads the Flashes by example.

“I think she has taken on more of a leadership role,” Marinaro said. “She’s given the team a lot of confidence off of her play, and that’s a type of leadership in itself.”

Sherwood believes staying focused prepares her for the competition, and taking on a leadership role is important for the balance of the team.

“It helps a lot talking in the back, just controlling the defense, because you see the whole field in front of you,” Sherwood said.

Marinaro said the hard work Sherwood has put in is starting to show and has brought a lot to the table for the Flashes.

“It’s not just pure talent,” Marinaro said. “I think she’s come a very long way in the three years she’s been with the program, and every year she consistently got better.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].