KENT, Ohio – In a series that has featured four consecutive double-overtime games heading into Sunday, the Kent State-Northern Illinois all-time serial had a history of going into extra time.
And, despite a frenetic ending to the teams’ contest at Zoeller Field Sunday afternoon, Kent State senior Vanessa Salerno (Etobicoke, Ontario) had no doubt the game would end in regulation.
“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind,” said Salerno. “I think we all looked down, but in the back of our heads, there was no way we were going to let the two (Northern Illinois) goals ruin our game.”
Trailing 2-1 in the game’s final five minutes, Kent State (9-5-0, 3-3-0 MAC) needed to secure the equalizer first. Senior goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood (Strongsville, Ohio) took possession of the ball in Kent State’s end and dribbled uncontested to midfield. From there, she served in a ball that found Salerno’s head; Salerno then directed the ball to freshman Stephanie Haugh (Richmond Hill, Ontario), who scored the game-tying goal for Kent State in the 87th minute.
Admittedly, Kent State head coach Rob Marinaro then adjusted his team’s formation to prevent conceding a game-winning goal to the Huskies. But Salerno had other things on her head.
Less than a minute later, junior Megan Repas (Avon, Ohio) utilized her strength and sent in a long throw-in to the Northern Illinois penalty box, aiming for Salerno. The senior midfielder flicked a header toward the goal, where the ball clipped the lower portion of the crossbar and dropped behind the goal line to give the Golden Flashes a 3-2 lead, which stood for the game’s remaining 143 seconds.
It was a whirlwind finish for an up-and-down-and-up game for Kent State. The Golden Flashes took a 1-0 lead in the first half, when Repas headed in a rebound shot by Salerno in the 30th minute.
But Northern Illinois (2-10-2, 1-5-0 MAC) responded with a flurry of action out of the halftime break, shaking the nets in the 46th and 49th minutes to take a 2-1 lead.
Kent State remained focused, however, and pressed in its attack. For the game, the Golden Flashes out-shot Northern Illinois 27-7, with a 14-3 discrepancy in the second half. That relentless pressure forced NIU to make 10 saves, with seven in the second stanza.
Sherwood, who made two saves in the win, tallied her second assist of her career while on the field as the Kent State goalkeeper. Sherwood tallied an assist during the 2009 campaign.
Kent State returns to action Friday, Oct. 14 when the Golden Flashes travel to league-leading Toledo.
For photos and stats from the game, visit kentstatesports.com