Men's soccer falls in penalty kicks to Warriors
The Shippensburg University men’s soccer team played its heart out on a cold Tuesday evening last week in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) quarterfinals against rival East Stroudsburg University, playing the game out to a 0–0 tie, but fell in penalty kicks.
It was the first appearance in the conference playoffs for the program since 2015, and the squad shut out the highest-scoring offense in the PSAC for the second time this season. The Raiders finished the season with an overall record of 10–3–4 and 6–2–3 in the PSAC.
The offense struggled all day, but the Warriors were strong on defense and constantly tested the Raider defense. Senior goalkeeper Garret Watson had the game of his life, racking up a season-high nine saves during the match — also a career-high.
On several occasions, there were shots that seemed destined for goal, but Watson made a pair of spectacular saves to preserve the tie. Senior forward Cole Kropnick had a handful of opportunities on goal, but was unable to capitalize on his chances.
Both defenses were at the top of their games and did not give the opposing offenses many clear shots on target. ESU dominated the match in terms of shots, racking up 22 overall compared to SU’s nine — 10–3 in shots on target. The shutout was the Raiders’ eighth of the season.
The final few minutes of the second half featured several good chances for both teams, but neither could convert the opportunities.
At the end of the second period of extra time, the Raiders had two clear chances that could have ended the game, including a corner kick that landed right in front of an SU midfielder, who skied the point-blank shot over the crossbar as time ran out.
Neither team could grab that elusive regulation goal and the match seemed destined to come down to penalty kicks.
The Warriors converted all four of their attempts, while ESU goalkeeper Steven Robak saved SU’s first kick and the final kick for the Raiders came off the crossbar to seal the victory for the Warriors.
Coach Jeremy Spering was more than proud of his squad, but was of course disappointed with the result.
“I couldn’t be prouder. To say I’m proud of this group that is leaving us is kind of an understatement,” Spering said.
Spering said the departing seniors helped restore a level of passion and pride in the program and, although the result was not what they wanted, he hopes the players who return next season will use that feeling of defeat to improve.
Even with an impressive overall record, the Raiders were left on the outside looking in after the NCAA Division II selection show on Monday. SU was ranked sixth in its region — two spots away from a tournament spot — meaning its season has come to an end.