Waiting no more: Soccer captures first win of season against preseason-poll number one

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Kent State’s soccer team won its first game of the year Thursday – eight matches into the season.

The Flashes defeated Ohio University 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference opener.  These goals account for half of their total all season.

“They’ve battled so hard and haven’t gotten much luck,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “For them to come out in the first conference game and produce the way they did was phenomenal. It’s what this program is about.”

League coaches picked the Bobcats to finish first in the MAC, KSU to finish fourth.

After being on the road for five straight games, the Flashes were back at Dix Stadium.

“We always get fantastic support when we’re out here,” Marinaro said, “so many student-athletes out there supporting each other. I’m just so proud of our athletic department.”

Kent State improves to 1-5-2 (1-0 MAC), while OU falls to 4-3-1 (0-1 MAC).

The Bobcats had scored 21 goals going into Thursday’s match. Marinaro knew the defense would have to step up – and it did.

“The team defense tonight was outstanding with the commitment they showed throughout the game,” he said. “Everyone did their part, and some tonight. Our backline showed their strength tonight.”

The Flashes’ goalie, senior Sarah Melén, recorded four saves. OU tallied 12 shots total with five on goal.

KSU scored its first goal 32 minutes into the game on a set piece 40-yards out. Junior defender Dalaney Ranallo sent the ball to freshman midfielder Kelsey Salopek, when she headed the ball to the right of the goalie.

The Flashes went into halftime leading 1-0, their first lead at the half since the first game of the season against Cleveland State.

Four minutes into the second half, junior forward Callie Cunningham found Salopek as she headed another ball to the goalkeeper’s left. These were the first goals of her collegiate career.

“It was just a special night for her,” Marinaro said, “a freshman stepping up in conference play with huge goals for us.”

KSU had eight shots with four on goal. Salopek led the Flashes with two goals, and freshman forward Mary Kate Lape led with three shots and one on goal.

Marinaro said seeing more balls in the back of the net is what his team needed. In its last game before an 11-day break, KSU had scored its second goal of the season against No. 22 Ohio State on Sept. 11.

“Confidence is building with this group,” he said. “It started in our last game against Ohio State; it only grew with how we played tonight.”

The Flashes will be back on the road as they travel to Akron (1-3-2, 0-1 MAC) Sunday. The Zips were picked to finish second to last in the conference.

“It doesn’t matter who the opponent is or where we play them,” Marinaro said. “We have to earn it like we did today.”

Jacob Shondel is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].