The Shippensburg University women’s soccer team lost a hard fought 2-1 game to Gannon University at David See Field on Saturday afternoon.
The game was SU’s senior day. The team honored its five seniors before the game, presenting the players with flowers and framed jerseys.
SU started the game looking unfocused and nervous. GU only needed five minutes to net twice.
The Golden Knights’ first goal came off a corner kick. Gannon’s Jordan Rickan slipped her marker and headed home Mani Brueckner’s swinging cross less than two minutes into the contest.
Three minutes later, SU senior goalkeeper Samantha Wood misplayed Michelle Gentin’s cross and GU’s Sidney Morgan found herself in space with an open net in front of her. She tapped home her shot to put the Golden Knights up 2-0.
The Raiders pulled themselves together almost immediately. Senior right-winger Katie Leverentz looked dangerous all game and nearly set fellow senior Rhonda Runion up for a goal 10 minutes into the first half.
Leverentz beat her defender down the right side of the field, started to dribble in, then played Runion a beautiful pass well-inside the 18-yard box. Runion had time to take a take a touch and had plenty of space for a shot. She might have done better with the finish but her high hard blast still proved to be a difficult save for GU’s keeper.
After that chance the Raiders started to take control of the game, winning the midfield battle and coming close to scoring on several set-pieces. The game’s momentum really turned for the Raiders with five minutes left in the first half when one of GU’s scorers Jordan Rickan was given a red-card for arguing with the referee.
Now with a player advantage, SU really began to boss proceedings. Unlucky not to score on several chances at the end of the half, SU finally opened its account with a nice finish from senior Cassie Armold off a corner hardly a minute into the second half.
Armold was the Raiders’ best player on the day. Along with her goal, she made several great tackles in dangerous positions on the right side of the field. It proved nearly impossible for GU attackers to get by her and she was always a threat, moving the ball forward from the right back position.
After the goal, SU only upped the pressure, outshooting the Golden Knights 8-4 in the second half. GU goalkeeper Maggie Brinkman was fantastic, making several acrobatic saves and stifling many SU crosses.
As the ball was mostly in GU’s end of the field during the second half, their defenders began to clear indiscriminately, often blasting the ball out of bounds. Against most teams this would offer the defense a chance to collect itself and reorganize, but not against the Raiders.
SU’s Meghan Mahon is capable of doing a front-handspring throw-in — a skill very few players are capable of.— it generates much more loft and distance on throws. As a result, any Raider throw-ins from the final third of the field were equivalent to corner kicks.
The Raiders could not make any of these long throw-ins count; however, GU was able to match up and win a lot of the aerial battles.
SU’s best chance to equalize came with less than two minutes left in the game. SU’s Kylee Bricker had a deflection dribble out to her a few yards outside the 18. She blasted a strike that left Brinkman gazing hopelessly behind her as the shot went just inches high, scraping the cross bar as it passed.
With the loss, the Raiders dropped to 6-8-3 on the season while the Golden Knights rose to 12-3-1.
After the game, SU head coach Rob Fulton said that there were some positives to take away from the game for his squad.
“We asked them to compete, work hard and be strong in one on one battles,” Fulton said. “They certainly did that today.”