‘He deserves it’: In 22nd season, coach Marinaro gets 200th win after defeating defending MAC champion

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Once the final whistle sounded at Thursday’s soccer match, coach Rob Marinaro had just recorded 200 career wins.

Standing at midfield with his players, he watched a video of former players and family members congratulating him.

“It was very emotional to see players from the past, then my mom and my sister,” said Marinaro, who became head coach in 2001. “It was a thoughtful gesture from the university and assistant coach Rocky (Sasitharan). That just meant a lot.”

The Flashes, led by their defense, defeated Bowling Green 1-0 Thursday at Zoeller Field.

Marinaro has been with the program since its start in 1997. He has won the Mid-American Conference’s coach of the year award three times.

Redshirt senior defender Tianna Harris said he is the best coach ever. She has played four seasons under Marinaro.

“He deserves it,” Harris said. “I’m super happy for him to be a part of this night. I’m looking forward to giving him some more wins.”

Going into this week, Kent State soccer’s team had lost seven consecutive games against the Falcons – the most recent being a 3-1 defeat in the 2021 Mid-American Conference championships.

“The team just worked so hard tonight,” Marinaro said. “It’s so well deserved, and that was really about everything that we’ve talked about throughout the season. They’re starting to put that together.”

Coming into the game, BGSU scored eight goals in its last two games.

“The girls I played beside in the back did a phenomenal job tonight,” Harris said. “We communicated with each other very well, and we’ve worked really hard this entire season together.”

KSU improves to 4-6-4 overall and is tied with Ball State for second in the MAC at 4-1-2. Bowling Green falls to 5-5-3 and is tied for fifth at 3-2-2 in the conference. Buffalo remains first at 5-0-2.

The Flashes and Falcons went into halftime scoreless.

Three minutes into the second half, KSU had a corner opportunity.

Sophomore midfielder Siena Stambolich fired a ball into a crowd of players, and Harris headed the ball past the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.

This was Harris’s first goal on the season – Stambolich recorded her second assist.

“I didn’t have to do much,” Harris said. “The service was amazing, and the ball dropped to me, and I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Getting set pieces has been a point of emphasis for the Flashes this season, said Marinaro.

“That is where we are the most dangerous, and it allows us to keep pressure on the opposing defense,” he said. “We have to keep finding ways to get them throughout the game.”

KSU had six corners – BGU had none.

Kent State had four shots and three on goal; Bowling Green had nine shots and five on goal.

Senior goalkeeper Sarah Melén had five saves, bringing her season total to 49, and has recorded four shutouts.

The Flashes travel to Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Huskies are 5-4-3 overall and eighth in the MAC at 2-3-1. They are on a two-game losing streak.

“We came to work today against a high-powered offense team,” Marinaro said. “They earned this victory and deserved to see the work being put in start to pay off.”

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