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YSU’s Shrum discusses his team’s momentum at Curbstone Coaches

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — Momentum can be a contagious thing, just ask YSU head women’s soccer coach Brian Shrum.

As his Penguins prepare for the stretch run of their season, Shrum can easily trace this year’s fast start to last season’s hot finish when they went 9-8-3 overall, going 7-2 in their final nine games after struggling to a 2-6-3 start.

Now in his sixth season with the Penguins, the program’s development might have taken longer than expected, but the hard work is finally paying off.

“I just think it has been the overall culture of the team and how we’ve developed the system we are working in, the players we have recruited. They have all set a new standard,” Shrum told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting at Avion Banquet Center.

Currently 6-5-1 overall – they authored a 4-1-1 start to their season, the best in program history – the team went 4-2-1 in seven non-conference games, have split their six home contests and are coming off a 2-1 Horizon League win at Purdue Fort Wayne last weekend.

Their rise from conference doormat to tournament contender has been a long time coming, yet hasn’t been unexpected.

“It really has been a combination of everything, I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on just one thing because soccer is a free-flowing game once it kicks off,” Shrum added. “It’s about what they do in training. They come for training every day willing to learn and do what they need to do and it has worked thus far.

“We just lost a key player against Wright State and that was a big hit to us. Unfortunately, we had to adapt a bit. We’ll see how it goes as we made that change this past weekend at Purdue Fort Wayne and moving forward the rest of the way. This year’s roster is a product of all our players. For example, against Purdue Fort Wayne we had five freshmen, five super seniors, four sophomores and just two juniors who traveled and dressed.”

With four league games remaining in the regular season, being a significant player in deciding this year’s tournament teams is an exciting, new venture for Shrum and his team.

“In years past, we’ve been a team that really hasn’t competed in conference play,” Shrum said. “If you look at our results at this stage of the game, wins haven’t been on the board but we’ve never been out of any game. We lost to IUPUI at home on a penalty kick, which is uncharacteristic of us. We then lost on the road at Wright State, 3-2 and those teams in the past were teams that just walloped YSU.”

To date, the Penguins have outscored opponents by a 16-14 count with two shutout wins, going 4-2-1 in one-goal games.

They have allowed two goals just twice and yielded a three-goal game, going 0-3 in those contests.

“We would like to see that other side come down a little bit but to score 16 goals and give up 14, that shows you a lot right there,” he noted. “A lot of goals we’ve given up are because we shot ourselves in the foot, had a couple mistakes in the back with a couple occurring when we were in possession of the ball, mistakes we would not have made in years past. If you look back at last year, we might have scored two goals in five games so we’ve scored more goals this year and that has been a big part of the reason as to why we started out so well.”

Taylor Berry and Lianna Van Sice currently lead the Penguins’ scoring attack with seven points each. Regan LaVigna, Chloe Weiland and Elis Spindola are one back with six points while Maddie Keister and Abriana Rondin have each registered four to date.

“A balanced scoring attack is a good thing,” Shrum said. “Opponents cannot key on one person so we have a plethora of kids that go out there and can potentially score any time. Hopefully that continues the rest of the way because we are still in the play-off hunt. We needed to get a point or three on the weekend and we did. If we didn’t, then we would have an uphill battle the rest of the way.”

The Penguins will travel to Cleveland State on Thursday, taking on the Vikings at 7 p.m. as they look to climb back to the .500 mark in Horizon League play.

Next Monday, YSU women’s volleyball coach Aline Scott will serve as guest speaker.

sports@vindy.com

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