Small adjustments add up as soccer team prepares for match against Pittsburgh

Lance Lysowski

Flashes hope to improve offense against Panthers

Senior midfielder Beth Diederich collides with a Cleveland State player in Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss. Diederich scored the only goal for the flashes. Kyle Roerink | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Coming off an overtime loss to Cleveland State, the Kent State soccer team is entering this weekend slate of games looking for improvement across the board. The coaching staff is expecting each player to make adjustments to their game.

“We were meeting with every single one of them just to make sure everyone knows their role, what their expectations are and to ask every single one of them to push that little bit harder,” Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said.

Junior midfielder Kellyn Flanagan, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin, is one of several Flashes looking to provide the team with a boost in offensive production against Pittsburgh (2-0) today at 4 p.m. To help the team’s offense, Flanagan, who scored the game-wining goal against Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 21, is working on making adjustments to her game.

“I need to play smarter and simplify my game,” Flanagan said. “(I need to) get rid of the ball faster and distribute.”

Flanagan and the Flashes are striving for a simple adjustment to their game this weekend: overall improvement. The Panthers, who defeated Ohio State 2-1 on Sunday, are the Flashes’ first major test of the season, but Marinaro takes the game as preparation for things to come.

“Every single game has to be an improvement,” Marinaro said. “It’s all about the process of preparing to be the best team we can be, come conference play.”

The Panthers have won their two matches in different fashions. In its first match, against Buffalo, Pittsburgh outshot the Bulls 21-3 in a 1-0 win. In their second match against the Buckeyes, the Panthers were outshot 23-9 but still defeated Ohio State.

The Flashes have consistently outshot their opponents this season. In their first two contests, Kent State has outshot their counterparts 35-23, but only three of those shots have resulted in goals – a trend Marinaro said he is not concerned with.

“The problem would be if we weren’t generating any offense; then we would be really concerned,” Marinaro said. “At this point right now, if we stay confident and continue to create those opportunities, we will look to capitalize.”

After playing Pittsburgh, the Flashes will travel south to visit Youngstown State (2-1-1) on Sunday. In eight meetings against the Penguins, Kent State holds a 7-1 record.

Youngstown State, with sophomore forward Kara Cooper, who has five goals and two assists, is looking to use home-field advantage against the Flashes. Flanagan said playing on the road is not ideal, but the Flashes will be forced to adjust.

“We’ve played on the road once in the preseason, and the game was a bit of a struggle for us in the first half,” Flanagan said. “We just need to be prepared to play out of our comfort zone.”

The weekend brings two opponents with winning records, and Marinaro said it would present a test for the team.

“It’ll just tell us where we stand,” Marinaro said. “We just need to go in and be the best we can on that day.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].