‘We didn’t give enough effort’: Soccer falls short, tying with eighth-ranked conference team

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

In the program’s previous six matchups, Kent State’s soccer team had not allowed a goal from Northern Illinois.

The Flashes had won seven consecutive matches against the Huskies. Thursday in Illinois, those streaks ended when the teams tied 1-1.

“It’s always a tough place to come play at,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “ We fell short today, and we didn’t give enough effort tonight.”

Kent State sits at 4-6-5 overall and moves down to third in the Mid-American Conference at 4-1-3. Northern Illinois is 5-5-4 overall and eighth in the MAC at 2-4-2.

Buffalo remains in first at 5-0-3 – Akron is last at 1-5-2.

In the first 30 minutes of the game, the Flashes had only one shot to NIU’s three.

After stealing the ball from a Huskie defender, freshman midfielder Taylor English fired a ball that deflected off the goalie and dribbled into the net.

“She’s always been doing a wonderful job – such a great team player and has given us so much,” Marinaro said. “She got her opportunity with a great finish to put us up one. It’s always great to see her be successful.”

In the final 10 minutes of the first half, KSU had three shots – NIU had one. Junior midfielder Luca Ralph totaled two and redshirt junior Lauryn Arruda earned one. Both players and English are not starters.

The Flashes led 1-0 at the half.

“We’re always asking for a full team effort,” Marinaro said. “The bench gave us a shot in the arm in the first half tonight, so we rewarded them with a little more time.”

Substitute players accounted for six of the nine shots on the night.

Two minutes into the second half, Northern Illinois was awarded a corner.

Freshman forward Amber Best fired the ball into a crowd of players, and senior midfielder Abby McHugh headed a ball past KSU’s goalkeeper, Sarah Melén.

The score was now 1-1. This was the last scoring play of the game.

“Giving up a goal on a set piece is very disappointing,” Marinaro said. “That’s just downright effort. We have to sacrifice everything to make sure we don’t give up goals in those phases of the game.”

The Huskies had eight corners, and KSU had none. The Flashes were outshot 12-9.

In the game’s final minutes, sophomore midfielder Siena Stambolich was helped off the field with an injury.

“She’s got a little knock, and it tightened up on her – limiting her mobility,” Marinaro said. “We struggled through that a little bit, but hopefully we’ll get through it pretty quickly with her.”

Stambolich has three goals and two assists on the season and is third on the team with nine shots on goal.

The Flashes will be at Dix Stadium to take on MAC second-place Ball State (6-4-5 overall, 5-1-2 MAC) at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve always stepped up defensively, so we’ll have to take a look and see what we can do to slow them down,” Marinaro said. “Our effort is going to need to be a whole lot better because it is going to be a tough match.”

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