The Golden Flashes' regular season-ending trip to Arizona was supposed to be a jolly good time, not a major pain in the backside.
The second-year squad was supposed to be watching a Mid-American Conference Tournament match on Tuesday, not hosting one.
Yes, you could safely say the 1998 season hasn't gone as expected for coach Colleen Marcum and her troops. Truth is, it's been one big, pleasant surprise.
"I really didn't envision finishing fourth in the MAC," said Marcum, whose No. 4 seeded Flashes (12-6-1, 5-4-1 MAC) will host No. 5 seed Toledo (7-11, 5-5) Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals. "I thought we'd be fighting just to make the tournament. But the girls have played well and worked hard, and hopefully, we've earned some respect from our MAC opponents."
If they haven't, something's wrong.
The Flashes have been on a mission this season to prove the conference coaches who picked them to finish dead last in the MAC wrong. And they've done so by earning nine more victories than a year ago, when Kent finished its inaugural season 3-14-2.
They've done so by improving immensely in all facets of the game.
Senior Kelly Haggard (team-high eight goals, three assists), freshman Cassi Johnson (five goals, five assists) and sophomore Nicole Downey (two goals, team-high 10 assists) lead an offense that has nearly doubled its point production from a year ago.
Junior Mia Quintanilla and freshman Daryl Schwenck anchor a defense that has allowed 37 less goals this year than in '98.
And Angela Snow, a first-year soccer player who was a four-year letterwinner for the Flashes' volleyball team, has been rock-solid in goal (1.21 goals allowed per match).
"This season has been fantastic for Kent women's soccer," said Marcum. "We've put ourselves in a great situation. We have a chance to make the (MAC) final four, and that would be awesome. And we know we can do it."
To make it to the semifinals, the Flashes will have to avenge a heartbreaking 2-1 regular-season overtime loss to the Rockets. And they'll also have to make a quick recovery from a four-day trip to Arizona, which was planned before MAC Tournament dates were announced.
"We get back at 10 a.m. (today), then we'll go to class and sleep during our normal practice time," said Marcum. "We'll go over film (tonight) then try to get some more sleep, although I know the girls will be excited and probably won't get much rest.
"It's going to be tough, but we're not complaining. The girls deserved the trip. I'm just really glad we're playing at home."
Toledo has nipped Kent by one goal in two previous meetings at Kent Soccer Field. But Tuesday would be the perfect time to turn the tables.
"Either team could have won those games," said Marcum, "so things have got to fall our way sometime. But we feel we have nothing to lose. In the worst case, if we lose, we still had a tremendous year.
"We've surprised a lot of people."