‘We let one get away’: Soccer’s slow start leads to first conference loss

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

All season, coach Rob Marinaro has preached the importance of playing strong for the entire 90 minutes.

In Thursday’s game against Western Michigan, the Broncos scored all three of their goals in the first half. Kent State only managed one.

“We really didn’t show up the first 45 minutes, and I give a lot of credit to them,” Marinaro said. “They were able to capitalize and outwork us.”

The Flashes fell to Western Michigan 3-1. They fall to 2-6-2 overall on the season and 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference. WMU improves to 2-4-4 and 2-0-1 MAC.

KSU had not allowed a goal in conference play going into Thursday. But 11 minutes into the game, the Broncos scored their first goal against KSU. Western Michigan scored its later two goals within 25 minutes.

Marinaro was not surprised by WMU’s early start.

“They’re a strong, hard-working team – it’s in the scouting report,” he said. “We just didn’t match the intensity and did not play aggressively.”

KSU’s ball would find the back of the net 20 seconds before halftime when sophomore midfielder Siena Stambolich fired a shot past the diving goalkeeper.

At halftime, the Flashes had two shots while the Broncos had five.

“No adjustments were made at halftime; we just talked about what was needed,” Marinaro said. “They were able to step their game up in the second half and really neutralized the game. If we would’ve started the game in that manner, it would have been nice to see what we could’ve done.”

KSU held WMU to only two shots in a scoreless second half.

“It takes 90 minutes to win a game,” Marinaro said. “No matter how talented you are, it can get thrown out the window if you don’t show up. If you don’t, the other team will, and they’ll take points from you, Unfortunately, that was the lesson we learned today.”

Tuesday, Marinaro’s program swept the conference player of the week awards.

Freshman midfielder Kelsey Salopek won offensive player of the week, and the defensive honor went to junior defender Dalaney Ranallo.

“It was a great weekend for the two of them,” Marinaro said. “They worked very hard last week and led the team in ways the team needed in order to be successful.”

Salopek has scored three goals in her collegiate career. Her first goal came against Ohio University on Sept. 22. She added another against Akron on Sept. 25.

The first-year has totaled five shots on the season, and all of her three shots on goal found the back of the net.

“The hard work paid off, and I owe a lot to my teammates for getting me the ball in spots where I can succeed,” Salopek said. “We as an offense we’re looking for a win, and once we got one, everything started clicking for us.”

Ranallo has recorded two assists leading to goals for Salopek. She and the Kent State defense led the team to two consecutive shutouts to start conference play.

The veteran remained humble about the recognition.

“This award could’ve gone to any one of us in the back line,” Ranallo said. “It can be moral boosting to see some of the work being put in start to pay off. We’ve shown, across the backline, that we are very solid, and we will continue to play that way.”

The Flashes return home as they take on Toledo (0-2-1 MAC) at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“We let one slip away, and we just can’t come out like that again and expect to win,” Marinaro said. “We’ll take a look at people that want to step up and the players that want to do that. We’ll look to play them a little longer than others.”

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