Fifth year head coach Will Lemke spoke after Youngstown State University’s 2-1 exhibition victory over Duquesne
University on Aug. 12 and previewed the upcoming season. The Penguins finished 8-9 last season (3-4 in the conference) and reached the Horizon League Tournament.
Last year you finished with the most wins in school history and the highest finish in school history (fourth in the Horizon League). Coming into this season, where would you say the expectation level is?
Well, last year we beat the one, three, five and seventh teams. Unfortunately, because of an ineligible player, we had to forfeit a victory, and we would have finished third. We showed that we could beat every team in our conference. Coming off of it and only graduating one starter, our expectation is to win
From the stats I saw, you finished in the top half of the Horizon League in points, goals and assists. Going into this season, do you expect it to be the same offensively and are you working on defensive principles?
We were pretty balanced last year on the defensive side and offensive side, but the big thing was consistency. We would have a letdown defensively and give up a goal. We would be pushing a team around all over the field and not get that goal we needed. We’re working on consistency on both sides of the ball. The true question is the midfield. With Tyesha Kizer, who was really coming around last year at center mid, she hurt her ACL. We’re kind of having a feel out to have someone take that position. That’s going to be the big key.
Chelsey Haney, I saw last year that she finished in the top half of the Horizon League stats in goals and points. Being a junior, do you look for her to be more of a leader or maybe the leader?
Yeah, Chelsey spent the summer playing in Fredericksburg and really seen a lot of international and professional-type players. She’s got a little bit of a tweak with her leg right now with her hammy coming into it. But last year she was a force. Again, it was consistency. There’d be times where she was dominating but wasn’t getting that finish. Now she really seems to be poised to really make her mark on the league. It’s just a matter of Chelsey getting healthy. I think she’ll be even more of a consistent threat this year.
I saw Milwaukee is the defending champion. Is
Milwaukee the team to beat this year?
Detroit and Milwaukee tied last year for the conference championship. Detroit returns more starters, so I think they’ll be the tops of their heat. Milwaukee’s kind of a wild card. They’ll obviously be tough because of their pedigree, but I really think Detroit’s poised to be on top of the heat.
How do you feel about Oakland joining the
Oakland’s a super X factor. They play very similar to Loyola who departed. They flood the midfield. They’re usually all over when they play the high pressure like Loyola did, and they had crazy results last year. They made a mini run in the NCAA tournament, so they’re tough. They have a coaching change. They have players that left, so they are a big wild card. They can be really good, but they are a big unknown right now.