By Richie Juliano
The Youngstown State University’s women’s lacrosse team debuted their first season in 2021. The lacrosse team played the program’s first game March 5 against the University of Akron. The Penguins lost by just one point, falling 12-11.
In lacrosse, players use sticks with loose netting at the heads to catch and throw a rubber ball. Each team has 12 players on the field with a goaltender, five attackers, and six defenders. The goal of the game is to shoot the ball in the opponent’s net, and the team with the most points at the end of two 30-minute halves wins the game.
The Penguins joined the Mid-American Conference for lacrosse, making the lacrosse team the only YSU team to be involved with the MAC. The Penguins are scheduled to play 10 games in the program’s first season.
Theresa Walton leads the team as the head coach. Walton comes from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she specialized in lacrosse recruiting and the defensive unit. This is Walton’s debut in head coaching, but she’s not new to programs just starting up.
“I’ve worked with starter programs since I have started coaching,” Walton said. “No one has seen a lacrosse player on this campus, so it is great that our girls get that type of exposure.”
The team has a full roster in its first year with 24 total players. The players hail from 12 different states and Ontario, Canada.
“Everybody is working hard for playing time and a starting spot,” Walton said. “We’re just excited with all 24 players extremely committed to this season.”
The team captain for the Penguins is the only senior on the team. Elicia Wells controls the net for the Penguins defense as the goalie. Wells is a two-time transfer from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Virginia.
“We have some great coaches. They have so much knowledge and great energy,” Wells said. “The coaches make us excited to be here — excited about YSU and being a Penguin.”
The Penguins’ first two games of the season were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t feel like we got too set back. I think the biggest thing was missing being with each other,” Wells said.
“Any setback is a challenge we will accept,” Walton said. “Any loss of game time is really unfortunate, but the team knows we have a game around the corner where their focus is forward.”
Penguin fans can watch all five home contests on ESPN3 or ESPN+ all season long. YSU sports broadcasting student Anthony Romo will have the play-by-play commentary for all of the home games.
“I’m blessed to be the first voice of the YSU women’s lacrosse team, and I hope this is the beginning of a great journey,” Romo said.
YSU’s women’s lacrosse team is not put at the top of the leaderboards entering the 2021 season. The Penguins were picked to finish last in the MAC preseason coaches poll.
The lacrosse team played against Detroit Mercy on March 13, winning with a final score of 12-7. The team will make its home debut this Friday, March 19, when it hosts Central Michigan University.
To find weekly updates on the women’s lacrosse team, visit YSU Sports’ website.