Penguins Begin Horizon League Play at Oakland, Host Kent State Sunday

Samantha Susi (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Samantha Susi (Photo by Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State women's soccer team begins Horizon League play on Friday when they travel to Oakland to take on the Golden Grizzlies at 7 p.m. from the Oakland Soccer Field.

On Sunday, the Penguins return home for their final non-conference match of the season as they welcome the Kent State Golden Flashes at 1 p.m. from Farmers National Bank Field in the Covelli Sports Complex.

Live stats will be available for both matches through YSUsports.com and Sunday's match against Kent State will be streamed on ESPN3.

Promotions

Sunday: YSU Water Bottle Giveaway, Pete The Penguin Photo Day, YSU Soccer Camp Attendee Game

Looking At The Opponents
Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies enter the match with a record of 2-4-1 having dropped four straight games, which includes losses to Western Michigan (1-3) and Michigan State (0-2) last week. 

Oakland's offensive attack is led by a pair of sophomore midfielders in Alexa Sabbagh (four goals, one assist) and Sami Lopez (three goals, two assists). Redshirt junior Jaimie Leas figures to get the start in net having logged 435:30 minutes in six games. She has made 24 saves and owns a 1.65 goals against average to go long with a .750 save percentage.

Friday night will be the 15th meeting between the Penguins and Golden Grizzlies as Oakland owns the advantage in the all-time series with a record of 11-1-1. Oakland's last win came in 2017 at home while the Penguins lone victory came in 2014. Last season, the teams played to a 0-0 tie at Farmers National Bank Field. 

The Golden Grizzlies are under the direction of second year head coach Juan Pablo Favero.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes own a record of 1-4-1 after losing their only game last week to Butler (1-2). Redshirt sophomore Karly Hellstrom is the leading scoring on the team despite playing as defender. Hellstrom has netted a pair of goals and recorded an assist. Redshirt sophomore Faith O'Neill has played every minute in goal making 26 saves and owning a .96 goals against average to go along with a .806 save percentage. O'Neill has also registered two shutouts including a four save, shutout performance in a victory over Syracuse (September 8).

Sunday afternoon will be the 12th time that the Golden Flashes and Penguins square off. It will be the first game between the teams since 2014 as Kent State has beaten YSU 10 consecutive times dating back to 1998. The Penguins only win came in their first meeting on September 10, 1997. 

Rob Marinaro is in his 19th season as Kent State's head women's soccer coach and his 23rd season with the Golden Flashes program.

Last Time Out

The Penguins went 0-1-1 last week after recording a scoreless draw against Eastern Michigan on Friday and falling to Duquesne 6-0 on Sunday. Kate McEachern finished the weekend with 25 saves including a career-high 14 save performance against Eastern Michigan.

LaVigna Sisters Sqaure Off

The LaVigna family may have a little trouble deciding who to root for this Sunday when sisters Regan LaVigna and Maddie LaVigna square off against each other at 1 p.m. from Farmers National Bank Field.

Maddie, the older sister of Regan, is a senior defender on the Golden Flashes squad. This season, she has seen playing time in a six matches while making starts in four contests. For her career, she's appeared in 35 games, made 24 starts and recorded one assist during her junior campaign. 

Regan has made an immediate impact for the Penguins by starting seven of the eight games at forward while also registering two assists. 

Both saw their fair share of success while playing at Peters Township High School in McMurray, Pa. Maddie helped her team to a PIAA state championship in 2012 and was a three-time WPIAL All-Section honoree. Regan on the other hand was a four-time WPIAL All-Section honoree, a three-time All-League selection, and an All-State selection as a senior.

Sizer Continues Offensive Onslaught
Freshman forward Marcella Sizer continues to provide the fire power on offense for the Penguins scoring four goals and registering one assist through the first 8 games. She scored the game-winning goal against Fort Wayne (8/23), and a penalty kick against St. Bonaventure (8/25), before netting two goals and picking up an assist on the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) (9/8).

Sizer's four goals ranks her fourth in the Horizon League while her nine points puts her tied for sixth.

Costa Correia Plays Hero
The sophomore midfielder picked an outstanding time to score her first collegiate goal in a 3-2 win over St. Francis (Pa.) on September 8. After receiving a pass from Sizer and dribbling it up the right hand side of the attacking zone, Raquel Costa Correia fired a strike that found it's way into the back of the net after just glancing off the bottom of the cross bar. Costa Correia's goal in the 61st minute proved to be the game-winner as it gave the Penguins a one goal lead with under 30 minutes remaining in the match. 

McEachern, Jivraj Split Time In Net
Junior Kate McEachern and sophomore Zeeyana Jivraj have each been given the opportunity to start for the Penguins during the first eight games of the season. Jivraj made starts in the first two contests for the Penguins while McEachern has started the last six matches.

McEachern has recorded 48 saves over the course of six matches, including a career-high 13 save performance against Eastern Michigan last week. After this week, McEachern ranks first in the Horizon League with saves and has the most saves per game with an 8.00 average. Nationally, she ranks tied for 11th among all DI goal keepers with her 48 total saves.

Jivraj has tallied 13 saves total, including a nine save performance in a winning effort against Purdue Fort Wayne on August 23. She has a 2.00 goals against average to go along with a .765 save percentage.

Youth Movement
With only seven upperclassman on the roster, Head Coach Brian Shrum has turned to his talented group of freshman to play significant minutes through the first six games. Shurm has already used a starting lineup that featured seven freshman on two occasions this season.

Against St. Bonaventure on August 25, Shrum gave the starting nod to seven freshman while an additional three saw playing time during the match. On September 8 against St. Francis (Pa.), Shrum used seven frosh in the starting lineup while also giving playing time to three more throughout the game.

Freshmen Addie Roman (one goal), Regan LaVigna (two assists) and Sizer (four goals, one assist) have also been key contributors to the Penguins offense.

The Lone Senior
Larsen Murvin enters the 2019 season as the only senior on the Penguin's roster. She'll look to provide that "senior leadership" as the Penguins feature 22 underclassmen on their roster. For her career, Murvin has seen action in 39 games while also making 18 starts. She's record three assists during her time at YSU, with two coming during her freshman year and one last season as a junior.

During her senior campaign, Murvin has seen significant playing time making starts in all eight matches. Murvin nearly scored her first collegiate goal against Akron (9/6) when her shot hit the cross bar in the 65thm minute.

Up Next

The Penguins continue Horizon League play on Saturday, September 29 when they host IUPUI at 1 p.m. as part of their Student-Athlete Alumni Day. 

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