Work ethic puts KSU goalie in record books

Steven Voicik

Senior goalkeeper Alicia Hernandez fields a ball in the Flashes’ game against St. Bonaventure. Hernandez is Kent State’s all-time leader in saves with 15. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Many college students use the summer months to escape the rigors of the stressful academic year and relax. Not Alicia Fernandez.

Fernandez, a senior education major and goalkeeper for the Kent State soccer team, started her summer mornings promptly at 6 a.m. Fernandez and her roommate, a Kent State field hockey player, would head to the track for an early morning run and workout.

Fernandez would then head to work at Hattie Larlham, a long-term care facility in Mantua, as a counselor in a program called Camp Connect. Hattie Larlham is for children, adolescents and young adults with mental and physical disabilities.

During the summer months, the organization holds a unique day camp for children in the community and for children with autism and other disabilities.

“We try to provide an atmosphere of acceptance and awareness for campers and try to provide activities that children from the community and the children with disabilities can participate in together,” the camp’s Recreation Coordinator Karen Stoltzfus said.

Fernandez participated with the children in various activities including arts and crafts.

“Camp Connect takes a lot of hard work and preparation, and Alicia was right there with enthusiasm and great ideas,” Stoltzfus said. “Alicia did an excellent job with the children. “

Off the field she is mature, responsible and hard-working.

On the field, Fernandez exhibits many of the same intangibles.

“Our seniors have done a great job so for this season working hard and leading the team by example both in practice and in games,” Kent State coach Rob Marinaro said.

Fernandez who started 10 games as a freshman said that she wasn’t surprised when she got the chance to play significant time because there were only a couple of goalies on the team, all of whom had little collegiate experience, so time was split amongst them.

Fernandez made the most of her playing time. In her rookie season, she garnered All-Mid-American Conference second team honors, and she also earned a spot on the All MAC freshman team. Fernandez allowed only six goals and recorded five shutouts in her first season.

With her performance, Fernandez earned the starting job the following season, and the team finished the 2004 campaign with an 11-4-5 record. Not bad for a student athlete who was not initially recruited by the Flashes.

Fernandez, who was also recruited by Wright State University, said that Kent State coaches attended her high school games to scout an opposing player, but were so impressed by Fernandez’s play that they began to recruit her.

Fernandez said it was the academics and not soccer that was the biggest advantage to choosing Kent State.

“The academic help and support we get as student athletes is awesome,” Fernandez said. “The coaches also stress academics and believe in its importance.”

After recording three straight shut outs in the MAC tournament last season, Fernandez earned a spot on the All -MAC tournament team. Fernandez also earned a spot on the Academic All-MAC team for the first time in her career.

As for this season, the team and Fernandez hope to win the division, but to do so the squad will have to maintain two things.

“We need to maintain our intensity the (whole) length of the game, and we need to keep up our endurance. We always want to be the fittest team on the field,” Fernandez said.

The team has already established a strong bond and friendship with each other, making it easier to play together on the field, Fernandez said. A recent trip aided in that effort.

The team recently traveled to Hawaii to participate in the Outrigger Hotels and Resort Soccer Classic.

“The trip was amazing, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Fernandez said.

Head coach Rob Marinaro agreed and said that the trip was a good time for team bonding.

While in Hawaii, the team visited the Pearl Harbor memorial site and also found time to go to the beach and surf.

Fernandez has already enjoyed success this season and has etched her name into the Kent State record books. She currently holds the record for most career shutouts with 15, and the record for most career victories with 26. Still she remains humbled by the success.

“It’s really a whole team defensive effort, from the forwards getting back to help defend to the midfielders on back,” Fernandez said.

Contact soccer reporter Steven Voicik at [email protected].