By John Ostapowicz
The Youngstown State University women’s soccer team traveled to Rochester, Missouri to take on its first conference opponent, Oakland University, Sept. 15 which resulted in a draw.
Both teams were competitive as the battle did not end until the Penguins were trailing 1-0 at the 81:42 minute mark, freshman Taylor Berry scored her first career goal.
The goal was perfectly orchestrated by senior Regan LaVigna’s throw-in, which found Berry who punched it in at the top right corner of the net to tie the game.
Over four games, LaVigna has been a standout veteran presence on the women’s soccer team and continues to improve as the season progresses. Head coach Brian Shrum recruited her to become a Penguin four years ago to be able to come in and play at a high level.
“That’s something that she’s been brought in to do by providing scoring opportunities for us, getting in and around the goal to put the ball in the box,” Shrum said.
In the net for the Penguins, junior Brooklynn Kirkpatrick stood tall, tallying four saves while facing 14 shots. The Golden Grizzlies offensive attack was neutralized due to the team’s lockdown defense.
After tying against Oakland, Youngstown State came back home to hit the pitch at Farmers National Bank Field to take on its second conference opponent in Wright State University Sept. 18, which resulted in a Penguin loss, 2-0.
With the loss, Wright State holds the all-time head-to-head record, 22-1-3. The Raiders have not lost to the Penguins since 2012 and own a seven-game win streak.
For the Raiders, former Penguin, senior Marcella Sizer scored the final goal taking the wind out of the team’s sails. In her three seasons at Youngstown State, she totaled 23 points on 10 goals, two game winners and three assists.
In response to the loss, junior Justine Appolonia explained what needed to happen in order for the team to respond better to the pressure the raiders put on the team.
“Early on in that game, we were showing high pressure which was the plan to press them high and we had many opportunities. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on them,” Appolonia said.
Despite the loss, Youngstown State attempted 10 shots led by senior Abriana Rondin and freshman Elise Klein Spindola. Rondin currently leads the team in shots with 15 for the season.
The shutout loss marked the first time since Aug. 28 against Loyola University Maryland that Kirkpatrick allowed more than one goal.
Kirkpatrick leads the Horizon league at the goalie position in total saves with 48 and ranks fourth in save percentage at 81%.
The Penguins traveled to Detroit, Sept. 22 to take on their third conference opponent, The University of Detroit Mercy. You can catch the game on ESPN+ and ysusports.com for stats as well as highlights from the game.
Youngstown State is back home Sept. 25 to challenge third-ranked Horizon League foe, University of Wisconsin-Milwakuee at 1 p.m.