Soccer looks to improve with additions

Lance Lysowski

Since claiming back-to-back Mid-American Conference regular season championships in 2003 and 2004, the Kent State soccer team has hit some speed bumps on its way back to the top.

The team’s 2008 campaign may not have gone according to plan, but the Flashes showed glimpses of what could lie ahead. Kent State failed to qualify for the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the first time since 2002, finishing 10th in the standings with a 6-11-1 overall record (3-7-1 MAC).

2009 soccer schedule

Aug. 21, 4 PM Eastern Kentucky H

Aug. 28, 4 PM Cleveland State H

Sept. 4, 4 PM Pittsburgh H

Sept. 6, 2 PM at Youngstown State

Sept. 11, 6 PM Tulsa (at Albuquerque, N.M. )

Sept. 13, 12:30 PM Cal State Northridge (at Albuquerque, N.M. )

Sept. 18, 4 PM Michigan State H

Sept. 25, 4 PM Ball State H MAC

Sept. 27, 1 PM Miami H MAC

Oct. 2, 4 PM Central Michigan MAC

Oct. 4, 1 PM at Eastern Michigan MAC

Oct. 9, 4 PM Northern Illinois H MAC

Oct. 11, 1 PM Western Michigan H MAC

Oct. 16, 3 PM Bowling Green MAC

Oct. 18, 1 PM Toledo MAC

Oct. 23, 4 PM Ohio H MAC

Oct. 25, 1 PM Akron H MAC

Oct. 29, 3 PM at Buffalo MAC

H: Home game

MAC: Mid-American Conference game

Kent State soccer coach Rob Marinaro said he was impressed with the fact that six of the team’s 11 losses were by one goal, and the group outshot their opponents on a consistent basis.

“We were never out of any game,” Marinaro said. “Statistically, outside of the score, we beat a lot of teams.”

The team fell short of making the MAC Tournament, but ended the season on a high note with a 2-1 victory over Buffalo. The victory ended the Flashes’ eight-game winless streak.

“What happened last year is forgotten,” Marinaro said. “It’s a brand-new team, with a brand-new season.”

The squad has eight starters returning, which includes Catherine Marosszeky, senior midfielder and two-time Second Team All-MAC member, and junior forward Kelly Heaton, the team’s leading returning goal scorer. These veterans were put to the test last season, as the Flashes went eight games without a victory.

Marinaro said he believes this will only improve this season’s team.

Flash Facts

• Soccer became a varsity sport at Kent State in 1997. The Flashes struggled in their inaugural season with a record of 3-14-2. The team won 13 matches the next year, which is still the Kent State record for wins in a season.

“It’s made the group of returners hungry, and they showed it in the spring,” Marinaro said. “We were much more competitive and had an urgency to our game.”

The Flashes showed a few glaring weaknesses last season on the defensive side of the ball. The team was tied for third in the conference in goals allowed (30) and committed the fourth most fouls.

The team’s incoming recruiting class includes eight freshmen and a former top 50 recruit in junior midfielder Kellyn Flanagan. Flanagan spent the past two seasons playing for the Wisconsin Badgers where she lettered both her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Coach Marinaro said he expects this large group to step up and take on big roles.

“We have a wonderful group of additions that are going to be competing on a continuous basis,” Marinaro said. “With what we’ve put together as a team, I think it’s time for this program to make some big strides.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].