By Drew Zuhosky
It’s been almost three weeks since the Youngstown State University soccer team last recorded a victory. Since then, the Penguins have dropped three straight matches to Horizon League opponents.
If the Horizon League Women’s Soccer Tournament were to start tomorrow, YSU [5-8, 0-4 HL] would be out of contention, as the team currently sits in eighth place. UW-Green Bay [2-10, 0-4 HL] would also be out of the mix, as they’re in last place.
Head coach Will Lemke discussed his team’s preparation for the match.
“We’ve just had one training session so far,” Lemke said. “We were pretty light on Monday because we went over a lot of film. The training won’t be too much different, but our emphasis will be on focus and intensity and making sure we have a complete performance for 90 minutes.”
Lemke zeroed in on one player as UW-Green Bay’s impact athlete, senior forward Heidi Hartmann. Her five goals are ranked second in the conference and her 13 points are tied for the conference lead.
“She was one of the team’s top players last year, and she could have easily been the player of the year in the conference last year,” Lemke said. “She’s still their go-to player, so she’s definitely someone you’ve got to watch out for when you play them.”
Lemke said that senior goalkeeper Katie Montgomery will start on Saturday. Montgomery has missed nine games this season due to concussions.
“As of now, Katie will be available,” Lemke said. “She’ll be starting. It’s just a matter of her getting back in the groove and being able to focus for 90 minutes. It’s tough when you’ve been out for a month. If we can get her back to her level of focus and her level of fitness, we’ll be okay.”
With only five matches left this year, including Saturday, Lemke said his team had to evaluate their performance.
“We had to really come together and talk about this and really look at our performances honestly,” Lemke said. “While we’ve done some good things, we’ve just been lackadaisical at times out there. That can’t happen. I think the team did a good job looking at themselves and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to step up.’ That’s the mindset we need to continue to promote. Every single person on this team has to fulfill their role for 90 minutes, plus 10 if it goes overtime and execute both sides of the ball.”
Sophomore defender/midfielder Marissa Martin points out that the mood of her teammates has changed.
“I think now after we’ve talked together and come together as a team, we’ve become more confident,” Martin said. “We’re more motivated to win the next five games in our season.”
Even though UW-Green Bay is in last place in the Horizon League, Lemke still expects a challenging match.
“Both teams are going to be battling,” Lemke said. “It’s kind of one of those old adages, throw the records out the door. That’s kind of what’s going to happen. They’re going to be looking to get on, get their season going — Green Bay’s going to want it. It’s a long trip and whenever you make a long trip, you want to give your best performance. It’s going to be a war.”