‘Sheer heartbreak’: With two conference games to go, soccer ties it up yet again


Destanee Cruz

Kent State freshman midfielder Kelsey Salopek steps into a kick during her soccer team’s game against Ball State Oct. 21, 2022.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Kent State’s soccer team has depended on its defense all season long.

Thursday at Zoeller Field, coach Rob Marinaro said his defense was “great” in his team’s 0-0 tie with Ball State.

“The defense set the tone from the opening minute,” Marinaro said. “We really limited a lot of their opportunities and defended them really well. Ball State has a great forward line, and for us to neutralize them was good to see.”

The Cardinals came into the game leading the Mid-American Conference with 22 goals and 21 assists.

“Our backline was ready, and we knew Ball State would come out strong,” redshirt senior defender Tianna Harris said. “We controlled that part of the game and didn’t concede any goals tonight.”

KSU is now 4-6-6 overall and remains third in the MAC at 4-1-4. Ball State is 6-4-6 and second in the conference at 5-1-3.

Buffalo remains in first at 5-0-3.

In the first half, Kent State’s defense limited Ball State to three shots in the first half.

“We worked hard, and we brought the energy today and put a lot of pressure on them,” Marinaro said.

KSU had made seven shots with four on goal by halftime.

“We had some opportunities that we created that I would like to have seen go in,” Marinaro said. “I have to give our forward line tons of credit for the fight they showed tonight.”

The Flashes’ defense held the Cardinals to two shots in the second half, and senior goalkeeper Sarah Melén recorded one save.

In Kent State’s previous game against Northern Illinois, Marinaro wasn’t pleased with the effort his team had given in its 1-1 tie. Thursday, he liked what he saw.

“It was really good, and there were moments where it could have been better,” he said. “But for 90 minutes, it was pretty consistent, and we showed up in certain moments to put a lot of pressure on them. I’m really proud of how they fought today.”

Kent State sophomore Joey Skillen fights to steal the ball from the opposing team during the game on Oct. 21, 2022. (Destanee Cruz)

With 45 seconds left in the game, Harris fired a ball that deflected off the BSU goalkeeper’s hand and ricocheted off the crossbar.

Redshirt junior forward Lauryn Arruda got the rebound and launched the ball over the goal.

“It was sheer heartbreak when I saw it hit the crossbar,” Harris said.

The Cardinals advanced the ball up the field in the final seconds when Melén intercepted the cross attempt. Leading MAC scorer Avery Fenchel collided with Melén and was given a red card.

Fenchel will serve a one-game suspension for accumulating five yellow cards on the season.

KSU has two games left in MAC play. The top six teams will make the tournament quarterfinals Oct. 30, and the top two seeds will earn a bye.

“Let’s keep going and bring that fight,” Marinaro said. “Let the chips fall where they may, but we have to continue to come out and be the hardest working team on the field.”

Kent State sophomore midfielder Alisa Arthur follows the ball down the field during the game on Oct. 21, 2022. (Destanee Cruz)

Harris said the team is hungry for the final two games.

“Our mentality is to be the aggressors,” she said. “It’s coming out on top and dominating to end the season.”

The Flashes travel to Central Michigan at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Chippewas are 2-9-3 overall and eleventh in the MAC at 1-4-2. Their last win came against Western Michigan on Oct. 6.

KSU plays its final regular-season game against conference leader Buffalo Oct. 27.

“It’s on us on what we want to do,” Marinaro said. “But ultimately, it’s just one game at a time and focusing on what we can bring Sunday.”

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