Kent State goalies two of a kind

Nick Walton

Despite competition, Nelson and Sherwood share friendly bond

Senior Kris Nelson (left) and freshman Kelly Sherwood (right) have formed a dynamic bond, even though they are competing for playing time at goalkeeper. “We’re real competitive, so we’re always on edge, but there’s nothing between us – we’ll stay friends,

Credit: DKS Editors

In the game of soccer, multiple players can play the same position at once.

Only one position stands alone on the field – the goalkeeper.

While the other players constantly run around the field, the goalkeeper stands in front of the goal until called upon to stop an opposing offense.

“If you don’t score (as a striker), your team may tie,” senior goalkeeper Kris Nelson said. “If a goalkeeper doesn’t make a save, you can’t win the game. Your job is to either tie the game or keep from losing.”

For the Kent State soccer team, this is where redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood steps in.

After a 7-11-1 season last fall, the Flashes have turned to Sherwood after a shoulder injury sidelined Nelson, who ranks fifth all-time in Kent State soccer history with 146 saves. Seven starts into her collegiate career, Sherwood said she has learned how to make the transition to collegiate soccer from Nelson.

“I had the experience on the team, and she came in very new to the collegiate level,” Nelson said. “Now we’re much more equal in the fact that we both are playing, so it’s much more equal than a teacher-student situation.”

Sherwood made her first start in the season opener against Youngstown State. Despite everything she learned from Nelson in 2007, there were still some things she couldn’t prepare for.

“I was really nervous walking out to the field,” Sherwood said. “(But) I had confidence in the players in front of me that I’d be able to (succeed).”

The Kent State defense held Youngstown State to four shots, and Nelson recorded the only save of the game for the Flashes in a 1-0 win.

Since the first game, Sherwood has recorded 33 of the Flashes’ 43 saves this season and had shutouts against Eastern Kentucky and conference rival Ohio.

“Last year served as motivation for Kelly, and she has stepped up and done a fantastic job,” Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said. “They both continue to compete extremely well, and right now, Kelly has taken the position and has succeeded.”

There is a bond between the goalkeepers, even though they are competing for playing time. Because of the solitude the position brings, the two goalies have formed a unique relationship. While other positions are interchangeable with multiple players at the same position on the field, goalkeepers feel more individual competition. However, Sherwood and Nelson have accepted their roles.

“Both have been extremely mature about the situation, and they’ve handled it very well,” Marinaro said. “They understand this is a team sport. When they get the opportunity to play, they will make the most of it and they will continue to compete for playing time.”

The relationship between the goalkeepers has been friendly but competitive.

“We’re real competitive, so we’re always on edge, but there’s nothing between us — we’ll stay friends,” Sherwood said. “I can always hear her on the sideline cheering me on, and I do the same when she’s in goal, so we’re always there for each other.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].