The Shippensburg University field hockey team advanced to the NCAA semifinals with a redeeming victory over conference rival East Stroudsburg University (ESU) last Saturday.
The Raiders’ win was a special one for a multitude of reasons. The team finally overcame its biggest challenge, knocking off the defending PSAC champions in ESU, after falling to them twice in the regular season.
SU’s triumphant win at Whitenight Field in East Stroudsburg also marks a milestone for head coach Bertie Landes. With the win, Landes reached 300 wins in her 18-year career at SU. Landes’ 300 wins are the most among active Division II coaches. Her current record at SU is 300–77–1.
The Raiders’ offense came through in a big way in Saturday’s game, finally cracking East Stroudsburg’s stout defense. The Raiders only managed one goal in each of their overtime contests with ESU previously this season.
Senior Cassie Rawa ignited the Raiders midway through the first half, netting her fifth goal of the season. Rawa’s goal was particularly important for the Raiders, as the team had just two losses all season when it scored the first goal of the game.
SU’s lead going into the second half gave the team an air of confidence, leading to a goal immediately following the halftime whistle. Leading goal-scorer Katelyn Grazan ripped home a shot from 12 yards out to score her 10th goal of the season.
Following the goal, all the Raiders had to do to advance in the postseason was protect its lead. Shippensburg then fell into a defensive shell around goaltender Ally Mooney to preserve the most dangerous lead in sports, 2–0.
In an ensuing series of events, SU’s Taylor Fisher made a diving stick save to bail out Mooney. But it was not enough as East Stroudsburg’s Sydney McCarthy scored shortly after on a penalty corner.
After surrendering one goal, Mooney and the Raiders’ defense shut down the ESU offense.
Mooney proved why she holds the nation-best save percentage and goals-against average, stoning the Warriors down the stretch.
The Raiders now face off against a familiar foe in Millersville University. Millersville last defeated the Raiders in the PSAC Championships on Sunday, Nov. 6, with a second-half comeback victory.
SU’s showdown with Millersville will decide which team wins the season series, and which team’s season stays alive. Fortunately for the Raiders, recent history sides with them. SU’s 2013 PSAC Championship loss galvanized the team, propelling them to a Division II National Championship.
SU’s final match with Millersville will take place in Easton, Massachusetts, on Friday, Nov. 18.