By John Ostapowicz
The Youngstown State University women’s soccer team defeated the No. 2 ranked Purdue University Fort Wayne, 1-0, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Engelmann Stadium Nov. 3. With the win, the team secured a spot in the Horizon League Women’s Soccer Championship for the first time in program history.
The Penguins accomplished this feat with a perfectly placed kick in the top-right corner of the goal by senior Abrian Rondin to secure the victory. Junior Brooklynn Kirkpatrick also recorded eight saves and a shutout.
Youngstown State stayed at Engelmann Stadium to face the No. 1 ranked University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Nov. 5. The women’s soccer team put up a strong, contested match, but ultimately fell to the Panthers, 1-0.
In their previous match, the Penguins tied with Milwaukee, 1-1, Sept. 26.
Although the Penguins couldn’t get past the Panthers, Milwaukee head coach Kevin Boyd credited Youngstown State and the coaching staff with the way they played against his team in an interview with mkepanthers.com.
“They were the five seed and came in on a run. They beat the four seed, they beat the two seed, and they took us to the wire,” Boyd said.
With the conclusion of the season, the women’s soccer team acquired numerous accolades which include: the first Horizon League Tournament appearance since 2014, and the first semifinals and finals appearance in program history.
The record breaking continued as junior Brooklynn Kirkpatrick set the Youngstown State single-season and career shutout record with eight and 10.
Kirkpatrick continued her standout season by recording nine victories this season, as well as moving into third all-time as a goalie at Youngstown State with 11 career victories.
For the rest of the team, freshman Taylor Berry and Rondin were each named to Horizon League All-Team honors.
Berry had a solid freshman year and was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team after tallying 22 shots and scoring two goals along with an assist for five points. For Rondin, she had a standout senior year, leading the team with 46 shots, three goals and two assists and being named All-Horizon League Second Team.
Academically, the women’s soccer team shined with graduate student Jordan Evans and junior Justine Appolonia being named to the Horizon League Women’s Soccer’s Honorable Mention All-Academic Team on Oct. 25.
The women’s soccer team had a slow start to the season, as it went 2-6-2. After Sept. 25, the Penguins turned it around by going 7-2-1 to end strong, earning their shot at a Horizon League title.
“I think what kept us pushing was our internal belief, and we’ve been through it all, throughout these last four years,” Rondin said.
In that span, the women’s soccer team also set a program record with five Horizon League wins. The previous record was three set back in 2012.
As of Nov. 14, nine incoming freshmen have signed National Intent Letters, with potentially 10 seniors leaving at the end of the year. The slew of players will help bolster the team heading into the 2023 season.