Kent State Sports Report: Women’s soccer team caps solid weekend with win over Akron

By Allen Moff | Staff writer Published:

By Allen Moff | Staff writer

Senior Jessacca Gironda’s three goals led the Kent State women’s soccer team (9-5, 4-2 MAC) to a pair of Mid-American Conference victories over the weekend, highlighted by Sunday’s 2-0 triumph over arch-rival Akron (4-7-3, 1-4-1) at Zoeller Field.

Gironda raised her goal total to 10 on the season, and now has seven goals in KSU’s last five games.

After a scoreless first half against the Zips, Gironda struck just 10 minutes into the second half. Brianna Bartolone took a free kick that Jaclyn Dutton was able to get a foot on and flick to Gironda, who put the ball high and over the goalkeeper to give Kent State a 1-0 advantage.

Gironda tallied her second goal of the day in the 85th minute with an assist from rookie Abbie Lawson.

Kent State ended the game with a 20-3 advantage in shots, as Flashes goalkeeper Stephanie Senn was forced to make just one save to earn her sixth shutout of the season.

Gironda scored just 3:10 into Friday’s game, and it held up as Kent State blanked host Buffalo (4-6-2, 1-4) 1-0. Gironda blasted a shot just inside the right post from inside the box.

Goalkeeper Stephanie Senn totaled eight saves to earn the shutout.

The Flashes will host Western Michigan at 4 p.m. on Friday.

VOLLEYBALL

Coming off one of the biggest wins in program history, the Kent State scrapped its way to a 3-0 victory (25-23, 27-25, 25-21) over host Central Michigan Saturday night. The Flashes (10-9, 4-2 MAC) captured their third straight victory just two days after stunning 18th-ranked Ohio at the M.A.C. Center.

“We didn’t play great tonight, but we played well enough to win and that’s what’s important,” said KSU coach Don Gromala. “We played steady at those critical moments that we’ve talked about and made them make the mistakes at the critical points.”

Sophomore Kelly Hutchison led the way for the Flashes with 11 kills, five digs, and four total blocks.

Aleksandra Nowak had another solid night with 31 assists and four kills on just six attempts, while Hannah Herc had 12 digs.

Kent State returns to the M.A.C. Center next weekend for MAC cross-division matches against Ball State (Friday) and Toledo (Saturday).

MEN’S GOLF

Kent State finished third after a tight battle during the final round of the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, which concluded Sunday at the Blackthorn Club at the Ridges.

No. 14 Virginia shot a closing 13-under-par 275 to post 22-under for the tournament, just one shot better than No. 13 Virginia Tech and only two clear of the 17th-ranked Flashes.

After beginning the day with a two-shot lead, Kent State fired a fine closing round of 8-under-par to finish 20-under for the tournament.

“We had a good tournament but finished third, and while that’s not a bad showing, finishing third is not our goal,” said KSU coach Herb Page. “We had some guys shoot some good scores, but we have to keep working to find a way to finish when we are in contention.”

Seniors Kyle Kmiecik and Taylor Pendrith closed strong for the Flashes, Kmiecik shooting a 5-under 67 that included just one bogey and Pendrith carding a 4-under 68 that included an eagle at the par-5 fourth hole.

Individually, Pendrith (71-71-68-210) finished tied for eighth at 6-under par. Kmiecik (73-73-67-212) finished in a tie for 12th at 4-under that also included senior All-American teammate Corey Conners (70-69-73-210).

Conners had his final round to 4-under through 10 before his day was derailed by bogeys at 13, 15 and 17, and a double bogey at the par-5 14th.

Josh Whalen (71-70-72-213) finished in a tie for 14th at 3-under after closing with an even-par round, while Nick Scott (73-69-75-217) tied for 30th at 1-over.

The Flashes return to action on Friday at the prestigious U.S. Collegiate held at the Golf Club of Georgia.

WOMEN’S GOLF

Kent State concluded its fall season with a seventh-place finish at the Schooner Fall Classic, shooting 43-over-par 883 in the three-day event that featured a final-round 2-over 282. Oklahoma State took first at +28.

Taylor Kim wrapped up a third place individual finish with a final-round 2-under 68 that left her at 1-under 209 for the event. Josee Doyon (30th, 12-over 222) and Jennifer Ha (39th, 15-over 225) both shot even-par 70 in the final round.

After winning two of their three fall events, the Flashes will take a break before returning to action at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic Feb. 16-18.

WRESTLING

Six Kent State wrestlers were recently ranked in the Top 30 by WrestlingReport.com, while five were ranked in the MAC Preseason Coaches Poll.

Sophomore 133-pounder Mack McGuire is No. 25 according to WrestlingReport and No. 4 in the conference after qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a true freshman last year. McGuire is one of five returning Flashes that have qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Junior 141-pounder Tyler Small was tabbed No. 11 by WrestlingReport and No. 2 by MAC coaches. The 141-pound conference champion in 2012, Small went 25-5 in open tournaments last season.

Transfer Michael DePalma is No. 20 according to WrestlingReport, and the sophomore 149-pounder is No. 4 in the conference poll. DePalma went 21-12 last season at Edinboro, primarily competing at 157.

The highest ranked Kent State wrestler according to WrestlingReport is sophomore Ian Miller, who is No. 8 at 157 pounds. The 149-pound MAC champion in 2012, Miller moved up a weight class last season, going 25-7 with eight pins in open tournaments. He is No. 2 in the MAC’s preseason poll.

Junior Caleb Marsh plans to move up a weight class to 174, where he is ranked No. 29 by WrestlingReport. Marsh went 23-12 in his first season with the Flashes, qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Championships at 165 pounds.

Also moving up a weight class is sophomore Sam Wheeler, who is No. 25 at 184 pounds according to WrestlingReport and No. 2 in the conference. Wheeler went 25-14 last season, earning a bid to the NCAA Championships.

Small, DePalma and Miller were also ranked in InterMat’s Top 20.

Today the Flashes will host an outdoor practice at Risman Plaza beginning at 3:30 p.m. Their season begins Nov. 10 at the Virginia Tech Duals and the Hokie Open.

FIELD HOCKEY

Hannah Faulkner capitalized in overtime to keep the Flashes (6-8, 2-0 MAC) undefeated in MAC play with a 3-2 win over Central Michigan (4-7, 1-1) on Saturday.

“I’m just pleased to come out with a ‘W’,” said KSU coach Kathleen Wiler. “I think this group showed what grittiness is. It was a gritty win; it wasn’t pretty, but it was just true grit.”

The Chippewas scored first 19 minutes into the game, but Faulkner equalized the tally six minutes later off an assist by Madison Thompson. Thompson then scored just before halftime with an assist from Rebecca Lee to give Kent State a 2-1 lead at the break. 

Central Michigan scored with 30 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Faulkner silenced the threat quickly, scoring a minute into the extra session on another perfect setup by Lee.

NOTEWORTHY

Former Cleveland Indians star Andre Thornton recently attended his first meeting as the newest member of Kent State University’s National Athletic Development Council. 

Thornton was a first baseman and designated hitter for the Indians from 1977-87, highlighting a 15-year career that saw him represent the American League in two All-Star Games, win the Roberto Clemente Award in 1979, the Silver Slugger Award in 1984, and the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year award in 1982. He has also been inducted into the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame and Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2010, Thornton was named Kent State’s first President’s Ambassador. He is already enjoying his new role on the NADC, the leadership advisory organization supporting the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at Kent State University.

“I first got involved with Kent State through Rev. Ronald Fowler as an ambassador to the president as it relates to diversity,” said Thornton, who is president and CEO of ASW Global, a supply chain management company based in Mogadore. “I became very impressed as I had a chance to see some of the athletes and programs here at Kent State. (Director of Athletics) Joel Nielsen and (Senior Associate Athletic Director) Matt Geis asked if I would be interested in being involved in the athletic board here and I told them I would consider it. So far it has been a fun run.

“I’ve been impressed with what Kent State is doing from the standpoint of success they have had around athletics, the education and the graduation rate of the student-athletes, the growth of the university and the growth of the community. All of those things are positive, and it is nice to play some small role in it.”

———

The Golden Flashes Club set an all-time high this past fiscal year, raising more than $1 million for the first time in program history.

The Golden Flashes Club raised $1,045,703 in 2012-13, eclipsing its $756,075 from the previous year by 38 percent. Donors increased by 13.1 percent over the previous fiscal year, up from 1,170 to 1,323. 

“This year’s record-breaking fundraising is a credit to our generous and loyal donors and the outstanding work of our athletic advancement team,” said Nielsen. “This is definitely a high point in our department’s history, and we are thankful for the support of our outstanding student-athletes.”

The Golden Flashes Club, comprised of a group of donors that financially support the academic and athletic excellence of Kent State athletics, provides scholarship assistance to more than 425 student-athletes, as well as operational support for each of Kent State’s 18 varsity sports.

A considerable portion of the total amount raised by the Golden Flashes Club came from its 110% Challenge. Donors were asked to consider increasing their annual support by 10 percent. This initiative was well received, as 213 donors took the challenge, resulting in an additional $75,258 in unrestricted support.

The gift that put The Golden Flashes Club over the $1 million mark came from 1967 graduate and former Kent State men’s golfer Dick Yamokoski, who has been a supporter of Kent State athletics for over 30 years.

“I support Kent State athletics because I am proud of our coaches, teams and student-athletes,” said Yamokoski. “As an alum, I feel that my financial support plays an important role in their consistent academic and competitive success. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

Email: amoff@recordpub.com

Facebook: Allen Moff, Record-Courier

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