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Women’s lacrosse gets started

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes The Youngstown State lacrosse team celebrates the first home goal in program history during a 17-4 loss against Central Michigan on Friday night.

YOUNGSTOWN — It’s been a long time coming since Theresa Walton was brought in back in July of 2019 to helm Youngstown State’s newly formed women’s lacrosse program.

The inaugural season — scheduled for spring of 2020 — of course was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now shot clocks adorn the north and south ends of Farmers National Bank on Fifth Ave, there are lacrosse markings on the soccer pitch and nets are set up behind the goals.

On Friday night, YSU played its first home game in program history on a cold and windy evening. As the sun set, Central Michigan began to light up the scoreboard to spoil the Penguins’ home opener by a final of 17-4.

Regardless of the outcome, taking the field despite all of the challenges brought on by the pandemic and having a new roster was something that Walton has been looking forward to.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes YSU's Emma Carter (right) drives down the field against Central Michigan during the first half.

“We’re still just really impressed with the composure of a young squad and they battled, played 60 minutes out and did it to the best of their ability,” she said. “I think that’s the largest thing we’re hanging onto as a coaching staff, just knowing that we can build off of a lot of good things with that.”

Standing in front of YSU was a Central Michigan squad that had previously beaten Oregon and Marquette this season.

The first home goal in program history was scored by freshman Lauren Ottensmeyer with 19:05 to go in the first half off a free position shot. Ottensmeyer was named MAC offensive player of the week following a five goal performance in a 12-7 win at Detroit Mercy.

Freshman Callie Vaudry tallied a pair of unassisted goals before halftime, but CMU led 10-3 going into the intermission.

YSU’s team captain, fifth year senior Elicia Wells had a busy evening in front of the posts with a season-high 15 saves, but allowed 17 goals on 43 shots to Central Michigan.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes YSU's Lauren Ottensmeyer (center) battles for possession during the first half, she had one of the four goals for the Penguins.

The only non-freshman on the Penguins roster, she has taken up a leadership role for YSU after transferring in from Division III Randolph-Macon in Virginia.

“It’s definitely been a learning curve,” Wells said. “I think that obviously having all freshman teammates, I’ve had to be a like a sounding board for a lot of them and show them the ropes of what it’s like to be a college athlete. I think that I’m trying my best to teach them how to be a good teammate because at the end of the day, that’s what you have to be first in order to win games.”

Freshman Jordan Miller rounded out the Penguins’ scoring midway through the second half, with YSU (1-2) scoring a season-low four goals, but Walton has seen improvement from their first contest against Akron through their contest against CMU (4-4).

“The build up has been good, I think transitionally we’re starting to really know what our looks are and who our IQ players are to get the ball to them quickly,” she said. “Through the midfield we’ve been super impressed with Lauren Ottensmeyer, Erin Clark, and Aryss Lindsey. They’ve been key for us to be able to play through the midfield and play fast which is our style.”

YSU is an affiliate member of the Mid-American Conference for women’s lacrosse in the league’s first season hosting the sport. Prior to this season Akron, Central Michigan, and Kent State competed as independents. Joining Youngstown State within the MAC are fellow Horizon League schools Detroit Mercy and Robert Morris.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes YSU's Erin Clack chases down the ball during the second half. 

The Penguins next play on March 28 against Kent State (1-5) at home.

Despite only being here for a single season Wells has a certain sense of pride representing Youngstown State.

“I’m so prideful, I think that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Wells said. “I wouldn’t want to be playing for other coaches, and I definitely wouldn’t want to be playing alongside any other group of girls.

“I think they’re so fiery and so feisty, and they have so much passion, it just makes me excited about being here.”

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