Less than three minutes into the game, sophomore midfielder Karly Hellstrom took a shot from five yards in front of the net. The ball rebounded, Hellstrom collected it and scored her fifth goal of the season in Kent State’s 2-0 win over University of Akron.
Hellstrom’s goal was the earliest in the game Kent State has scored all season.
“We worked really hard and got one early which I think changed the entire game so they had to chase a little bit more,” coach Rob Marinaro said. “We settled in and played really well defensively as a unit.”
In 2018, the Flashes had five shutouts on the season. The shutout win over Akron is already Kent’s fourth shutout of 2019.
“Shutouts are never an individual thing,” sophomore goalkeeper Faith O’Neill said. “It’s really a collective team effort from our back line. We did really well against a hard Akron team. This is the best Akron team we’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
The Flashes had 18 fouls, more than double its season average of eight fouls per game. Akron had 17 fouls and received three yellow cards.
“I think it was a little out of control,” Marinaro said. “We tried to keep our team at an even kneel and making sure we’re making smart decisions.”
Junior midfielder Vital Kats scored Kent’s second goal of the game off of a set piece following an Akron foul.
“I think [our set pieces] were a lot better this game,” Hellstrom said. “We were staying on our marks and I think we definitely got a lot better this game than we have been in the past.”
Coming into Sunday’s matchup, Kent and Akron each had seven points on the season. The win ties Kent for fourth in the Mid-American Conference with five games left before tournament play.
“We need to do a little bit of what we did today,” Marinaro said. “Play a very physical brand of soccer, but very smart. And then come back to our style of soccer and possessing the ball and creating our opportunities.”
Kent State continues its three-game homestand on Friday against Eastern Michigan.
“[Moving forward] we just have to really work on starting strong,” O’Neill said. “We got a goal in the first five minutes [today] which is cool for us instead of conceding in the first five which we have been doing.”
Contact Gina Butkovich at [email protected]