The Kent State women's soccer team is set to host the University at Buffalo in its season opener at Dix Stadium today, after 490 days without action because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kent State soccer team was picked to finish third in the East Division by MAC coaches while Buffalo was chosen second. Bowling Green got the most first place votes.
Kent State leads the all-time series against Buffalo 12-10-1 and has won three of the last four. The Bulls won the 2019 contest 3-2 with a 86th minute winner after Cameron Shendenhelm equalized twice for Kent State.
“They are excited and really looking forward to the opportunity again of getting out there,” Marinaro said. “They've been training for a long time now without any real competition.”
Marinaro said that his team does not have a single best player.
“We have a lot of really talented individuals, but we're not relying on the individual talent but the team concept and making sure that whatever happens we're doing it as a team.” said Marinaro.
Kent State returns its top five points leaders from 2019. The quintet of Vital Kats (Sr. Midfielder), Cameron Shendenhelm (Sr. Forward), Karly Hellstrom (R-Jr. Defense), Maddie Holmes (Sr. Midfielder) and Tianna Harris (Jr, defense) combined for 25 of the team's 27 goals and 18 of 20 assists. Kats (8 G, 8 A) was named both First Team All-MAC and Third Team All-Midwest Region while Shendenhelm (6 G, 6 A) was named Second Team All-MAC.
On defense, the Flashes will look to Tianna Harris and sophomore Reilly Ford to lead the back line after graduating two starters from the 2019 squad. Harris started in all 18 games while Ford played in 17 games as a freshman.
Marinaro said the team has been focused on training on how to play better as a team and also uniting the team. The team's focus is on themselves and to compete in the game the best way they possibly can.
“I think right now the important thing that we have is how well we can do as a team which has always been our strength, and with everything that we've been through last year, to come out strong, and enjoy the opportunity of being able to compete,” Marinaro said.
The Flashes will host Buffalo 4 p.m. kick-off tomorrow, March 4.
Spring 2021 MAC East Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Bowling Green - 67 points (8 first place votes)
2. Buffalo - 61 points (3)
3. Kent State - 41 points (1)
4. Ohio - 39 points
5. Akron - 24 points
6. Miami - 20 points
Ignatius is a sportswriter. Contact him at email@example.com.