A strenuous slate to start the season

Grace Manser being introduced in the starting lineup. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux / The Jambar

When a team hires a new head coach, the season ahead can be difficult. The same can be said when a team’s first two matchups of the year are Power Five opponents. Both of these statements hold true for the Youngstown State University women’s lacrosse team.

In July 2023, Youngstown State hired Rob Harris as the head coach of the women’s lacrosse team. 

The Grand Valley State University graduate started coaching as an assistant coach and director of lacrosse operations for GVSU from 2009-2011. He then became the head of recruiting and defensive coordinator at Adams State University.

Harris also worked as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College, which ranked as high as 10th overall in Division II Lacrosse Rankings during Harris’s tenure. 

Harris began his head coaching career in 2013, when he joined Davenport University.

The Panthers moved to Division II in 2018. The following year, Harris led Davenport to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament appearance and to the tournament’s final round in 2021.

During the 2021 season, the Panthers were ranked in the Division II Top 25 for the first time in school history.

After his coaching success at the Division II level, Harris joined YSU and began his career against two Power Five schools in his first games as head coach.

Game No. 1 saw the Penguins land in Eugene, Oregon for a matchup with the University of Oregon on Feb. 9, where the Penguins were defeated, 19-8.

For game No. 2, YSU had a home match against The Ohio State University on Feb. 16. 

At the end of quarter one, the Buckeyes took a 6-0 lead. By halftime, OSU led 12-1, as freshman attacker Ava Kreutzer scored her first career goal nabbing the Penguins’ lone point.

Youngstown State netted the first two goals of the second half. Freshman attacker Brooke Peck and freshman midfielder Grace Rund each scored to cut the lead to single digits. 

Brooke Peck looks to pass to a teammate during a home match. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Rund’s goal was the first of her collegiate career, but not her last of the matchup.

Ohio State led, 13-3, at the end of the third quarter and scored a goal just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter. However, YSU scored the next three goals in the game.

Rund, sophomore attacker Ally Garrett and freshman attacker Lena Cox all scored to cut the lead to 14-6.

An Ohio State goal followed, then the Penguins responded with the fourth career goal of freshman midfielder Katie Grottenthaler. 

Rund scored her third goal of the match — giving her a hat trick — and sophomore midfielder Jade Shearer scored, but ultimately, it was too late.

Despite outscoring the Buckeyes in the second half, 8-5, YSU fell by a final score of 17-9 inside the Watson and Tressel Training Site.

The nine points Youngstown State scored on Ohio State was the most by any opponent of the Buckeyes so far this season.

The Penguins will return to the field at 4 p.m. on Feb. 24 to take on the Duquesne University Dukes on Rooney Field in Pittsburgh. 

The teams have met in two previous matchups — one in Pittsburgh in 2022 and one in Youngstown in 2023. Duquesne won both matches by a final of 19-15 and 16-13, respectively. 

Junior Duquesne defender Hanna Pawela was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Week for her performance against Eastern Michigan University. 

Youngstown State will look to get past the defensive front of the Dukes if the team wants to garner its first win of the season.