Defense, overtime goal powers soccer to weekend sweep

Freshman midfielder Siena Stambolich (7) kicks the ball over to a teammate at the game against Northern Illinois University. The two winning goals scored by Kent State were one before and one after halftime.

Cole Oswald Reporter

An overtime goal capped off a two-win weekend for the Kent State soccer team as the Flashes moved into second place in the Mid-American Conference. 

Four minutes into overtime on Sunday, redshirt senior forward Cameron Shedenhelm passed the ball to redshirt senior defender Karly Hellstrom, who passed to sophomore forward Callie Cunningham in front of the Western Michigan goal. Cunningham kicked the ball in for the win.

“We got a set-piece with Cam on a wonderful ball in the air, and Karly was making a great run, got to the ball and then Callie followed it up,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “All three forwards involved in the overtime goal was pretty special.” 

The Flashes are 8-4-1 on the season and 4-1-1 in the MAC. Before their 3-2 win over Western Michigan (3-10, 1-5 MAC), they had beaten Northern Illinois (4-10, 1-5) 2-0 on Thursday.

The Flashes’ offense has scored nine goals in the last four games. On the weekend before that, they scored only one goal in a win and a tie.

“They’ve been opportunistic,” Marinaro said. “I would like to see the team play a little bit better offensively. Not just the forwards but the entire team in possession and moving the ball quickly so we can first get the ball in their half and then create opportunities for ourselves in their final third.” 

Against Northern Illinois, senior defender Tianna Harris started off the scoring 14 minutes into the game with a goal on a set-piece assist by Hellstrom. 51 minutes into the game, Shedenhelm increased their lead with a header goal with an assist from sophomore defender Keyosha Donkor.  

The Flashes took 20 shots, six on goal, while only allowing four shots, one on goal. 

“On Thursday, we were a little flat but ultimately found ways to create offense,” Marinaro said.  “With a shut-out, we were getting great defense and good goalkeeping.” 

The Flashes had a more difficult game against Western Michigan, going into overtime for the third time this season. 

“We had to grudge one out,” Marinaro said. “We didn’t play one of our better games, but we had fantastic defending and wonderful goalkeeping to find the win today.”

“In overtime, since it’s sudden victory, it’s coming out, pressing hard and finding that opportunity and capitalizing. That’s what they did.”

Western Michigan scored two goals, but the Flashes’ defense made several key plays and junior goalkeeper Sarah Mélen recorded six saves. 

“The defense has been stellar for us,” Marinaro said. “They’re coming in and really closing teams down. We gave two up today, but Western Michigan was great on the day, and they’re really well-coached. They tried extremely hard to try to pull off the win, but we weren’t really giving them a lot of opportunities and when we did, Sarah was coming up big for us.” 

The Flashes are tied with Bowling Green (5-5-3, 4-1-1) for second place in the MAC behind Ohio (9-3-1, 5-0-1).

The team isn’t focusing on their place in the MAC, Marinaro said. 

“We’re not trying to look at the standings or anything like that,” Marinaro said. “We’re taking it one game at a time and trying to get better every day. What’s ahead of us is the next game against Miami, and we’ll prepare hard there.”  

Kent State plays at Miami (7-4-3, 4-2-0) on Thursday.

Cole Oswald is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]