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YSU soccer coach patient while developing program

Brian Shrum

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The Youngstown State women’s soccer team has produced 16 all-league honorees, 12 all-newcomer selections, seven conference and three CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) academic all-district picks in 23 seasons as a varsity sport.

The program will celebrate its silver anniversary next year and while close on several occasions, they’re still looking at manufacturing that elusive winning season.

Brian Shrum is currently in his second season as head coach with his Penguins currently 2-5-1 heading into Friday’s Horizon League lidlifter at Oakland University.

Addressing the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly gathering at Avion Banquet Center, Shrum said he’s doing what he loves, while looking to build a formidable unit.

“I love doing what I am doing,” he said. “I have the opportunity to work with quality student-athletes on a daily basis and I enjoy each and every day I spend with them.”

Wins and losses don’t always tell the story early on when a new coach is brought in to change the culture of a program.

“If you are judging the program solely on wins and losses, then our start is not what I had expected or hoped for,” Shrum added. “As a Division I coach, the challenge for me is never the Ws or Ls. The challenge is keeping my composure and understanding my role as head coach.”

Shrum’s challenge this season has been trying to mesh basically a new unit, a team that tied Mid-American Conference foe Eastern Michigan, 0-0, this past Friday but fell to MAC rival Akron, 1-0, on a goal that was scored just 4:32 into the game and stood up for the next 75:28.

“At most, our starting 11 consists of just two or three players from last year’s team, so we’re basically a whole new squad,” Shrum said. “The new players that we brought in show a lot of upside and their interplay with last year’s players has been great. At any given moment, six or seven of our newcomers will start.”

Returning letterwinners to keep an eye on this season include midfielder Sammy Salentino, defenseman Lexi Neal (coming off ankle surgery last year) and goalie Kate McEachern, all juniors, and sophomore midfielder Laurel Prokopchak.

Local players dotting Shrum’s second roster include Brittany McFall, Lauren Dolak and Jordan Evans, all sophomores who played scholastically at Austintown Fitch, and sophomore Bethany Rasile of McDonald, who transferred from the University of Pittsburgh.

“Our lone senior is Larsen Murvin and she has played well thus far, helping us defensively after we lost Maddie Hughes to graduation,” he said. “Building a program just doesn’t happen overnight.

“We sometimes get lost in can you win the next game, can you make the tournament and society’s success based on wins and losses. That’s a tough one for me as a coach because it is going to take time. I need to be patient, YSU has to be patient and the community has to be patient because we’re battling a history of judging a program without much success in terms of wins and losses.”

Scheduling softies isn’t an option that Shrum entertains.

“The one thing I won’t do is pad our schedule just to produce wins,” Shrum said. “Players want to play top-notch teams because that brings experience. Each game gives me an opportunity to watch them grow and we’ve improved from day No. 1 to now. They are a hardworking group and each day, each week, each year we keep laying another block in our foundation.”

Retention is also a charge that Shrum embraces.

“Once we get a student-athlete here, it is my job to keep them here,” he said. “The attrition rate has been high, but I want to graduate all of our players and keep them here for four years. Plus, I want to be around to enjoy their success.”

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

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