By Marc Weems
Since the program started in 1996, the Youngstown State University women’s soccer team hasn’t had a winning season. No, that isn’t a lie. The program has won 78 games in 23 seasons including this year. But new head coach Brian Shrum is ready to forget about all of this.
“It’s funny that people keep talking about rebuilding,” Shrum said. “It hasn’t ever been built and there hasn’t been a winning season yet. For me, it’s not a rebuild but a build. No winning seasons in 20-some seasons is what I see.”
Shrum mentioned that the current team wants to be part of the process that sees that change.
The closest the Penguins ever got to .500 was in 2012 under then-head coach Will Lemke when the team went 8-9-0 including a 3-4-0 record in the Horizon League.
“The kids are trying their best. I can say that for certain,” Shrum said. “We’ve had some unlikely breaks here and there. We are hanging our hats on a young team. With experience, we are looking to build from that. Overall, they want to make a fingerprint of a new era.”
Shrum also said that the team is much more organized than they were when the season began.
So far this year, the Penguins are 1-5-2 with many close losses. Shrum’s first win at YSU came against Canisius College in a 1-0 win. The Penguins’ two ties happened against Chicago State University on Aug. 17 and against St. Bonaventure University on Aug. 31.
“They are playing fairly well but we just are not capitalizing on the opportunities we’ve gotten,” Shrum said. “We are always in games and always trying to get it back any time we give one or two goals up. We always fight no matter the score.”
Shrum said that all the players understand the process of turning the program around.
“They need to understand what is going on and what will go on,” he said. “A lot of how they see themselves getting there is by changing the culture within themselves. I’m more of a guider than a teacher. They haven’t lacked effort. They give all they can at all moments of the day. They do that as student-athletes and players.”
Shrum said that the players want to walk away having given their all.
YSU’s current problem is youth. With nearly seven freshmen playing each match, the Penguins have struggled to find more than just contributors so far.
“That is really the hallmark of a team,” Shrum said. “It is that they start from previous years so that younger girls get experience. That is what we hope. If we had a crystal ball, I could answer that for you. Hopefully, we get something to drop soon. We are starting seven freshmen on any given day. We have more contributors than anything.”
With Horizon League play beginning on Sept. 14 for the Penguins. Last year the Penguins went 0-9-0 in conference play with five matches decided by two goals or less with two overtime losses.
“I don’t know a whole lot of the teams. I’ll be getting to know the conference just like they will be,” Shrum said. “The girls thought that they were competitive in the Horizon League last year. They are going to go out and give their all this season.”
YSU starts Horizon League play against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at Farmers National Bank Field.