Slow non-conference start to stellar MAC scoring: Soccer just had to ‘trust the process’

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Kent State’s soccer team finally found its offensive footing when Mid-American Conference games began Sept. 22.

Before MAC battles started, the Flashes had scored only two goals in seven non-conference games. In their five conference games so far, they have scored 11 times.

“Trust the process,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “Early on in the season, it wasn’t going our way, but they stuck to the game plan and continued attacking. Thursday, they played at a different speed and took advantage of that on our counter-attacks.”

Thursday, the Flashes found the back of the net twice in each half, defeating Eastern Michigan 4-2.

“We had to come out and work from the opening minute,” Marinaro said. “They did just that tonight, and we’ve been focusing on that a lot recently.”

Kent State improves to 3-6-3 overall. Going into conference play, the Flashes were 0-5-2. They are now third in the MAC at 3-1-1 – a one-place improvement from last week.

EMU falls to 1-7-3 and is eleventh in the 12-team conference at 0-3-1. Ball State is first at 4-0-1.

KSU struck first with a goal by freshman forward Mary Kate Lape at the two-minute mark. This was her first career goal.

“We got off to a good start,” Marinaro said, “and when we get an early goal, it allows us to settle into the game and set the tempo.”

The Eagles’ freshman forward Hannah Thompson found the back of the net off an assist from sophomore forward Jamie Lefebvre 13 minutes later.

With 20 minutes remaining in the first half, KSU sophomore midfielder Alisa Arthur scored, giving the Flashes a 2-1 lead.

KSU had totaled four shots at the break – two on goal – with four corner opportunities.

Lape and Arthur each added another goal in the second half.

“They played very well tonight,” Marinaro said. “We did an excellent job of setting them up throughout the game. Our midfield distribution and the service behind the defense were fantastic.

“Both took care of business tonight, and that’s what we need.”

Arthur has three goals and four assists on the season.

In the final 10 minutes of the game, senior goalkeeper Sarah Melén faced three shots, saving two of them.

Thompson from EMU scored on a penalty kick with less than four minutes left in the match. She now has three goals on the season.

Melén totaled three saves Thursday and has 40 on the season.

The Flashes have been very “resilient” this season, Marinaro said.

“The older players are showing everyone how we do things,” he said. “We want to be a high-energy team, and everyone is buying into that mentality.”

The Flashes return to Dix Stadium to take on Miami  (6-3-3 overall, 2-1-2 MAC) at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Redhawks are currently fourth in the MAC.

“When we set the tempo is when we have the most success,” Marinaro said. “They’re continuing to learn, and I’m just proud of the consistency they keep working on.”

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