The No. 2 nationally ranked Shippensburg University field hockey team defeated two Top 10 foes in less than 24 hours, beating No. 3 Bloomsburg University, 4-1, on Friday and handling No. 7 Millersville University, 2-0, the next afternoon.
“This was huge. These two teams are up there in the nation,” said SU coach Bertie Landes. “We had to come out there with a lot of passion and enthusiasm and play well as a team.”
The Raiders executed Landes’ orders perfectly. Against BU, the Raiders’ finishing was clinical. Although being outshot 24-13 SU never trailed and was always a threat in front of goal.
SU’s first goal came less than four minutes into the game off a penalty corner.
After a quick scramble in front of the BU goal SU’s Sam Langone fearlessly tapped home her third goal of the season.
BU frantically tried to equalize over the next 20 minutes, controlling possession and earning many good looks at goal but SU’s defense refused to give an inch. Led by Junior Katie Shoop, who played a defensive midfield role, the Raiders harassed and disrupted BU’s offense all over the field.
There were several great saves from SU goalie Ciarra Delost as well as some goal line clearances from SU defenders as the Huskies continued to push players forward.
SU looked dangerous on the counter as BU’s attacks left room behind them. After earning a series of penalty-corners off one of these counters SU senior Kayla Harshman played fellow senior Taylor Jones through on a beautiful pass 10-yards to the center left of the Huskies’ goal. Jones placed her low hard shot perfectly, bouncing it off the inside of both posts and into the net.
SU carried its two-goal lead into halftime. Coming out of the break the Raiders seemed to feed off their vocal home support. Instead of BU generating the chances, it was now the Raiders on the offensive.
For the first 10 minutes of the half SU seemed to have a stranglehold on the game and the Huskies seemed to be on their back feet. This pressure paid off little more than five minutes after the start of the half with another rebound goal. The scorer was again a senior. Emily Kohlbus found herself
in space as a deflected shot dribbled to her right in front of net. Kohlbus wasted no time putting the chance away and giving her team a commanding 3-0 lead.
BU tried to rally with a goal three minutes later from forward Brooke Simonovich off a great feed from fellow forward Jenna DiSabatino. Then SU slammed the door shut on any Husky comeback hopes with some stout defense and a game clinching goal late in the game. With 2:50 left in the contest junior Lauren Taylor skillfully finished her seventh goal of the season.
After the game SU had little time to celebrate. Their next game began at 2 p.m. the next day.
Against MU, the Raiders again relied on outstanding defensive performances from their midfielders, defenders and goalie. Senior defender Amanda Burridge put in a fantastic shift.
Junior forward Bre White was a nightmare for MU defenders all game. White absolutely skinned the Marauder’s entire defense on several runs throughout the day. She was a threat anytime she had the ball, and at times looked unstoppable.
SU earned a 1-0 lead off a late first-half goal from junior Taylor Bender who was masterfully assisted by sophomore Ari Saytar. SU increased its lead with little more than 15 minutes left in the game as White easily put away a penalty she earned.
MU had a huge chance to get on the scoreboard as SU was given two penalties toward the end of the game. The penalties resulted in a seven-minute stretch where MU always had at least a one-player advantage. For several minutes during that stretch the Marauders had a two-player advantage. In what was a microcosm of how the team performed during the weekend SU did not even allow a shot on goal, completely stifling MU.
“The second game was tough because we had played so well yesterday and it is hard to go back to back,” said Landes after the game. “I think we did what we had to do.”
The Raiders play away contests against Seton Hill University tomorrow and Slippery Rock University on Saturday. The Raiders will return home next Tuesday in a PSAC East matchup. SU got its revenge against BU on Friday. The Raiders lost to BU last year in the PSAC Championship game.
With its impressive start, SU is poised to make another deep run into the PSAC playoffs and with the help from Bre White and Coach Landes, the Raiders look poised to bring home the PSAC crown.