By Drew Zuhosky
Four years ago, midfielder Karlee Kline and defender Macey Riese entered the Youngstown State University women’s soccer program as freshmen in the team’s last season at Stambaugh Stadium.
That year was a banner season for head coach Will Lemke and the club, as they set the team record for the most wins in a season with an 8-9 mark en route to the #4 seed in the 2012 Horizon League women’s soccer tournament.
Since that time, Lemke and the team enjoyed more success in their current home, Farmer’s National Bank Field, such as the 2014 season, where the team posted a 7-9-2 overall record and an undefeated 6-0-2 mark highlighted by a 1-1 draw against Purdue University in Youngstown in September.
Now, those seniors have one final home match in their careers, this Saturday night versus the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames.
Following a Wednesday night match versus The University of Detroit-Mercy Titans which saw YSU win 2-1 on goals by sophomore midfielder Kyler Lum and junior midfielder Tyesha Kizer, Lemke took time out to reflect on the departing seniors.
“I’m really proud of them because they were part of the transition,” Lemke said. “When I first came here, we wanted to bring in good, hard-working, blue collar kids that would work hard. At one point in time, people never thought that you could compete with the Milwaukees [University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee] and stuff like that here, and this group’s beaten Milwaukee twice. These seniors were really important players for turning this program around.”
Kline has started 61 to this point in her YSU career, and has two more remaining. Kline reflected on what she has brought to the team over the past four seasons.
“I’ve brought a lot of hard work and dedication to this program,” she said. “I’ve brought a lot of heart to it and love this game. I’ve been playing since I was five years old, so it’s going to be a really emotional day on Saturday.”
Kline found the team’s 2012 2-1 win over Milwaukee to be most memorable for her. Kline says she’s enjoyed being a YSU athlete over the past four years.
“I’m very proud to say that I’m a Penguin,” Kline said. “I’ll forever be a Penguin and that’s just really awesome to me.”
Riese has started every game since her sophomore season. Riese said she enjoyed serving as the team leader for the last three years.
“Being a center back, you have to accept the role of being able to control the field,” Riese said. “So I think that’s one thing I’ve brought to the team.”
Riese enjoyed her stint at YSU and the experience of being a collegiate student-athlete.
“It’s just been a great experience all around,” Riese said. “I don’t really have many bad things to say about the program or about my teammates or my experience. I’ve had a great four years here and I’ll always remember that and look back on it with nothing but the best memories.”