One Hot Day

Nick Walton

Soccer battles through heat to win its season opener

The Kent State soccer team kicked off the 2008 season with a 1-0 win at Youngstown State in Stambaugh Stadium yesterday.

The game’s only goal was scored seconds after the 79-minute mark by sophomore forward Kelly Heaton off an unassisted rebound.

“Every single team member was in the box, and everyone was scrambling for it,” Heaton said. “The goalie came out and we had Lauren Evans who challenged it and the ball popped out, and I just played it into the right corner.”

The goal was the first of Heaton’s career.

Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said the goal was an indication of improvement.

“In the past, that ball would have gotten cleared,” Marinaro said. “This year, they kept on fighting tooth and nail to make sure it went in the back of the net.”

During the 90 minutes of soccer, the two teams set a physical tone by combining for 18 fouls. The team also had to persevere through the heat, which the scoreboard estimated at 92 degrees during the game.

“At half-time we talked to each other and said that we need to finish it no matter what the weather is,” Heaton said. “We went in with a good attitude and tried to finish it.”

The Flashes out-shot the Penguins 18 to four, but had a hard time scoring as seven shots were saved by Youngstown State junior goalkeeper Mariah Snyder. One goal was waived off because of an illegal procedure by Kent State. Marinaro said his team still needs to improve, but yesterday’s game showed promise.

“There are a lot of little tweaks that we need to make in order to make it a more consistent effort for 90 minutes,” Marinaro said. “But the bottom line is they worked extremely hard and fought to make sure that we came out with a victory.”

Heaton said ultimately the team unity helped lead them to victory.

“We’re like a family,” Heaton said. “We come together and have each other’s back.”

Sunday’s victory was also a significant win in the history of the program. Prior to the win the team was 0-3-2 all-time in season openers on the road. The win also improved the Flashes record to 7-1-1 against the Penguins.

“When you schedule some of the teams that we do – and we have a very difficult schedule this season – you’re going to find that,” Marinaro said. “It’s nice to see us getting on the road and picking up a (win).”

The Flashes will head to Dayton to face Wright State on Friday, and then return home to face Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in their season opener. Marinaro said the team will have to continue to work hard to prepare for the two games.

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].