Soccer: Look beyond the record

Nick Walton

Going into this season, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this beat assignment.

Prior to this semester, I was a reporter for general news and had never covered sports. Without knowing what I was getting myself into, I started working as the beat reporter for soccer.

The season ended more than a month ago, and looking back, I had an enjoyable time working on the beat.

I know if you look at the numbers alone, this was a difficult season for the team. A 6-11-1 record, eight games without a win and missing the Mid-American Conference tournament only tell part of the story. Beyond the records were traits that can’t be measured by stats or numbers.

One thing I respected about the team was that it never quit. Even as the Flashes went through a stretch of eight games without a win, they continued to work hard and strive for wins when they could have easily quit.

I remember heading into the second-to-last week of the season, the team needed to defeat Bowling Green and Toledo to keep its chances of a MAC Tournament bid alive. Senior midfielder Caitlin Hester was passionate when I asked about the significance of winning those games. I got a sense of how badly the Flashes wanted to show their record was deceptive – because it was.

Kent State constantly outshot its opponents and lost six games by one goal. In the realm of “what if’s,” what if some of the breaks went the Flashes’ way?

Despite their record and being eliminated from postseason play, they still played hard in the final game against Buffalo. I’m not supposed to be biased, but I was glad the team won that day.

As a former athlete (and I’m using that term loosely), I hate to see athletes work hard, put forth a lot of effort and lose.

The Flashes stayed positive despite the adverse conditions of the season and were always eager to face their next challenge.

Another thing I respected about the team was that it stuck together. From the beginning of the season, coach Rob Marinaro stressed team unity was going to be a key to the Flashes’ success.

From my observations at practices and games, I can’t recall any incidents when teammates argued or put each other down. Players always showed their support after making a mistake, and the bench was always standing up and cheering.

When I talked to sophomore forward Kelly Heaton about receiving MAC Player of the Week honors, she was quick to point out her teammates played a significant role in her receiving the award. I always got the feeling that this was a complete team.

As cliché as it sounds, Kent State was an ideal team that worked hard and stuck together. Unfortunately, the Flashes’ record doesn’t reflect how hard they worked or how good they were, but hopefully a foundation for a better season was started this season.

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].