12 Oct YSU soccer coach speaks | News, Sports, Jobs
BEAVER TOWNSHIP – Currently in his fourth year as head coach of the YSU women’s soccer team, Brian Shrum feels like it is just his second in terms of development and all that has happened outside the lines over the past year and half.
After starting this season 0-6-3, the Penguins have posted a 2-2-1 mark over their last five games, have steadily improved and because of that run now find themselves 2-8-4 overall and in fifth-place in the Horizon League standings.
With the top six teams making the conference tournament, their first play-off appearance in six years would be a shot in the arm to the program and go a long way when they hit the recruiting trail.
“We have four regular season games remaining and must take them one at a time,” Shrum told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center. “The top six teams make the tournament, we’re sitting fifth right now and off to our best start in the Horizon league since 2015.
“We never look ahead, but we’re treating the next four games as play-off games and keeping our focus in front of us. We’re taking it one game at a time because once you get into the tournament, it becomes a crapshoot and anything can happen.”
Early struggles seem to now be paying dividends for Shrum’s squad.
“I underestimated the situation when I took over in 2018,” Shrum said. “The program was in shambles and we just weren’t ready to compete with the big dogs. Recruiting was a huge part of the puzzle and COVID was an interruption no one anticipated but we’re slowly making the progress that I had hoped we would.”
The Penguins have lost five games this season by a goal but are coming off a 1-0 win over Northern Kentucky on Sunday, finally finding a way to finish the game according to Shrum.
“Against Oakland University we had a 1-0 lead, settling for a 1-1 tie,” he added. “Against Wright State, once again we had a 1-0 lead but had to settle for a 1-1 tie so it was great to see us close out Sunday’s game with the Norse. If those other games go our way, we could very easily have been 5-1-1 over those last seven games.”
Losing a game by a goal can be both frustrating yet promising, according to Shrum.
“With my style of play, you cannot win playing a direct style,” he said. “You have to be more methodical and hold the ball. Over our last four games and because of that style of play, you will notice that shots have been down by our opponents. We lost to Wisconsin-Green Bay on a penalty kick and created tons of chances against UIC, we just couldn’t finish. At the end of the day, it’s the huge engine in the middle of the field that generates the ball to those who score.”
Leading the team in scoring through 14 games is Regan LaVigna with six points, Abriana Rondin who has added five points and Marcela Sizer with four points.
Each has tallied two goals apiece while Brooklyn Kirkpatrick sports a team best 1.24 goals against average during her six games in net.
“We’re playing like I had hoped,” Shrum said. “We’re looking to end the season on a positive note with the hopes of making a deep run in the league tournament.”
Next Monday, John Barnes YSU head women’s basketball coach will serve as guest speaker.
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