Soccer falls to conference leader for ‘disappointing’ end to season

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

When Kent State’s soccer team took the field Thursday, the Flashes needed to beat or tie Buffalo to earn a spot in the Mid-American Conference tournament.

The Bulls defeated KSU 2-0 at Zoeller Field.

Kent State’s hopes for a tournament appearance relied on Western Michigan losing or tying against Toledo.

In the final four minutes of the game, WMU scored the game-winning goal sending the Broncos to the tournament.

Coach Rob Marinaro said it was a “disappointing” end to the season. “We could have shown up better to start the game,” he said. “You can’t give the lead to a team of this type of caliber because then they can just control the rest of the game.”

Kent State ended the season at 4-7-7 overall and seventh in the MAC at 4-2-5.

Buffalo’s 7-0-4 MAC record earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The team finished 13-1-4 overall.

Eleven minutes into the battle, Buffalo forward Jasmine Guerber advanced the ball on the right side of the field and fired it past KSU’s jumping senior goalkeeper, Sarah Melén.

The score was now 1-0.

Fifteen minutes later, the Bulls stole the ball, and after two passes, senior midfielder Leah Wengender got the ball between two KSU defenders. She fired the ball past a diving Melén, making the score 2-0.

This was the last goal of the game.

“This team has been pretty resilient all season,” Marinaro said. “Falling behind early makes this game more difficult, but they never gave up and fought hard till the end.”

Marinaro said his team didn’t apply enough early pressure in the game.

“When we applied the pressure and came at them with a lot more, we disrupted their play,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do a lot of that until the second half.”

KSU had one shot on goal in each half.

Junior defender Dalaney Ranallo led KSU with two shots.

Four Flashes finished the season with three goals: midfielders Kelsey Salopek, Alisa Arthur, Siena Stambolich and redshirt senior defender Tianna Harris.

Salopek led the team with 23 shots and 14 shots on goal.

Melén had a 70.4 save percentage and totaled 57 saves.

“I’m really proud of the team,” Marinaro said. “They really fought, and we didn’t get the start that we wanted to start the season. We had a lot of situations that we had to battle through this year. They stepped up to many of those occasions, but what they did within the conference and how they battled within the conference was very impressive.”

KSU started the season with an 0-5-2 record and only two goals scored.

In MAC play, the team scored 16 goals and went 4-2-5.

Graduate student Lizzie Philibin, redshirt junior Lauryn Arruda and Harris will not be with the team next season. Marinaro is “proud” of their leadership this season.

“They showed the underclassmen what it means to be a part of this program,” he said, “showing them what to do to be successful every single day.”

Next season, the team has to “grow together.”

“Everybody has got to be willing to sacrifice to get better,” Marinaro said. “We saw a lot of great things this season, and we just need to be a lot more consistent with it.”

Buffalo, Ball State, Bowling Green, Ohio, Miami and Western Michigan will compete in the MAC tournament which begins Sunday.

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