Soccer’s high five

Nick Walton

Despite adversity seniors form close bond after four years

Goalie Kris Nelson, midfielder Kaitlin Messer, midfielder Caitlin Hester, midfielder Brittany Dougherty and defender/midfielder Cassie Seten are the five Kent State soccer seniors this season. They will play their final home game at 3 p.m. tomorrow agains

Credit: DKS Editors

For senior Kent State soccer defender Cassie Seten, her favorite memories of her career are road trips.

“Everybody is together all the time, and that’s when you get to know your teammates and share some of the greatest moments,” Seten said.

Last season, the Flashes had a bizarre experience on the road against Maryland.

Before the players had even finished putting their cleats on, they were introduced.

“We literally walked onto the field and had to play; we didn’t have time to warm up,” senior midfielder Kaitlin Messer said. “We were expected to lose because Maryland is one of the bigger schools.”

Despite not getting the chance to warm up and then being outshot 33 to 5, the Flashes left Maryland with a 1-1 tie. For seniors Kris Nelson, Brittany Dougherty and Kaitlin Messer, that was the favorite moment of their collegiate careers.

“It just showed the ability of our team and that we can go against an (Atlantic Coast Conference) team and show that we’re just as good as them,” Dougherty said.

The only goal of the game for Kent State came off an assist from senior midfielder Caitlin Hester. Hester’s favorite moment of her career didn’t come from last season’s game against Maryland – it came this season.

Hester said she has enjoyed this season for the bond she’s had with the other players, even though the Flashes are 5-11-1 on the year.

“I think that as a team we became closer as I’ve ever been with any other teammates before,” Hester said. “I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

For the five Kent State seniors – Seten, Nelson, Messer, Dougherty and Hester – the last four years have gone by quickly, and now their careers are coming to an end.

Four years after the seniors came to Kent State, they will play the final game of their careers when the Flashes play Buffalo at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Kent State Soccer Field.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said even though the players’ careers are ending, the impact they’ve had on the program will continue.

“They’ve showed everybody how to do things the right way,” Marinaro said. “If things are going well or if things are not going well, you continue going forward and hold your head high. They’ve given everything they’ve had to this program, and I’m very pleased with them and very grateful for everything they’ve done for our program.”

Along with their play on the field, Marinaro complimented the players for balancing the roles of student-athletes.

Coming into their freshman seasons, the players had to make the transition to collegiate soccer and learn to deal with new teammates. As the players learned to work together, they grew as leaders on the team.

“It’s pretty difficult at first understanding (teammates’) personalities and understanding how each individual works,” Seten said. “As a team, I think the leadership has been the best that it’s ever been.”

Over the past four years, the seniors have dealt with player graduation, coaching changes and scheme changes. One thing that has stayed constant for them is the support they have for each other and the rest of their teammates.

“Kent State soccer doesn’t really have a tradition, and we wanted to leave something behind and start a tradition that we are always going to be here for each other,” Hester said. “Nobody can succeed on our team without those other teammates on the field with them.”

With the seniors leaving, the underclassmen are expected to continue the legacy that the seniors started. The seniors feel the underclassmen are up to the task.

“I feel our legacy as a group was building a family, a team and a work ethic,” Nelson said. “We really worked hard as a group, and we just tried to make sure everyone worked their hardest. We have a good group of individuals who already have stepped up as leaders in the underclass, so I think they’ll be phenomenal next year.”

The seniors said they will miss playing soccer and being with their teammates. Even though their time as teammates is over, Seten said the relationships will last forever.

“This year was a good way to go out,” Seten said. “We don’t have the record to show how good of a team we are, but I have friends for life and memories for life, and I hold that dear to my heart.”

Kris Nelson

Position: Goalkeeper

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Springboro

Bio: In 38 career games at Kent State, Nelson has 172 saves, fourth best in program history and seven shutouts, tied for third in program history. Nelson’s five shutouts in 2007 are tied for second in program history.

“Individually, one of my biggest accomplishments was being able to step up as a leader,” Nelson said. “As a team, one of the greatest accomplishments we’ve overcome is adversity and just coming together.”

Kaitlin Messer

Position: Midfielder

Major: Fashion Merchandising

Hometown: Dayton

Bio: Unlike the other seniors, Messer transferred from Youngstown State after her sophomore season. Messer was keeping up with family tradition as her older sister, Amanda, played for Kent State and her younger sister, Annie, is now on the team.

“Annie and my relationship has grown a lot – we’re spending so much more time together,” Messer said. “It’s nice to have someone around on away trips that’s family. I think it’s a great experience.”

Brittany Dougherty

Position: Midfielder

Major: Secondary education

Hometown: Palatine, Ill.

Bio: After being the captain of her team at Fremd High School, Dougherty has played in 47 games for Kent State. Dougherty has 14 shots, 10 shot-on-goals and a goal in her career.

“Soccer has helped me a lot (to) become the person I am on and off the field, so I think it’s shaped my character a lot,” Dougherty said. Dougherty said she wants to use her degree to teach so she can also be a soccer coach.

Caitlin Hester

Position: Midfielder

Major: Communications

Hometown: Worthington

Bio: Going into the final game of the season, Hester is tied for the lead in goals with four and leads in assists with seven. Hester has played in 74 games for the Flashes and has a total of 13 goals, 13 assists and 84 shots.

“I think since I got here I’ve worked really hard and I’ve worked for all of the things I’ve accomplished,” Hester said. “I can say that I’ve really enjoyed the four years and I’ve worked the hardest I can work, and I’ve enjoyed my time with all of my teammates.”

Cassie Seten

Position: Defender

Major: Marketing and advertising

Hometown: Smyrna, Tenn.

Bio: Dating back to the 2006 season, Seten has started in 56 straight games.

“I always go out every single practice and work my very hardest,” Seten said. “Luckily the coaches saw how hard I was working, and they decided to start me every game. Sometimes it’s not the skills that are going to get you places; it’s the hard work.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].