Surprises have been few for the Golden Flashes' rookie mentor, mainly because he spent the past four years as the top assistant for previous Kent State head coach and program founder Colleen Marcum. Marinaro also has the luxury of 10 returning starters, who hope to make his first year as head coach a highly successful one this fall.
"(The players and Marinaro) are definitely familiar with one another, and that makes things so much easier," said Marinaro, a former professional soccer player for the NPSL's Cleveland Crunch. "Having experienced players around you really helps, because they realize what they need to do to be successful in the Mid-American Conference. It's been a pretty smooth transition."
Marinaro believes basically the same batch of Flashes that suffered through an injury-plagued 8-8-1 season filled with heartbreaking losses last year can make an abrupt leap up the MAC standings in 2001.
Kent State's hopes for improvement hinge around a relatively young but experienced nucleus headed by sophomore forward Lauren Caminati, who led the team with 10 goals and 24 points in 2000 and scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 overtime victory over Robert Morris in KSU's 2001 season opener.
Also providing offensive punch at the forward and midfield positions are juniors Cassi Johnson and Bethany Sanker, senior Emily Badger, and sophomores Jaclyn Pecjak, Lauren Covay, Corie Van Korngut and Sara Figuly.
"We have a nice mix at forward," said Marinaro. "I don't think they've jelled yet, but when they do that can be an explosive group. We're also solid at midfield, with a lot of flexibility."
Seniors Daryl Schwenck, Kristen Meister and Badger, all four-year letterwinners, anchor Kent State's veteran defense, while junior Lindsey Mitchell starts for the third straight season at goalkeeper.
The Flashes are off to a shaky 1-3 start in '01, even though they've outshot every opponent thus far but one. But the slow beginning's not all bad according to Marinaro, who watched Kent State drop its first three conference matches after starting 4-0-1 last fall.
"I think we may have peaked a little too early last year," said Marinaro. "We may have started looking ahead, and hopefully we learned from that. This year we're not making any predictions. We're just taking things one game at a time."
The Flashes will open the MAC season by hosting Marshall Friday at 4 p.m.
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