The Shippensburg University field hockey team dropped its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship rematch against Millersville University this Sunday with a score of 2–1.
The PSAC Championship slipped through SU’s grasp after a late goal by Millersville midfielder and PSAC MVP, Margaret Thorwart, lifted the Marauders over the Raiders.
SU came out flying, putting relentless pressure on the Millersville defense. That pressure resulted in a deflection across the face of the goal, where SU forward Brooke Zeiders one-timed a shot past the Marauder’s goaltender. Zeiders’ goal came less than four minutes into the first half, giving SU an important lead.
The game looked to be in SU’s favor, as the squad has been tremendously successful protecting leads all season.
Millersville pushed back to force the majority of play in the neutral zone. Neither team gave an inch, allowing SU to carry the lead into the second half.
Halftime seemed to give Millersville a chance to regroup, turning the tide against the Raiders.
“We just played with a single focus of wanting to pass the ball — wanting to play together as a team. And, they did some things that kind of broke that down for us,” head coach Bertie Landes said.
Shots began to mount up against SU. Millersville finally capitalized on a set play off of a deflection by Millersville forward Arianna Grays halfway through the second half. Millersville continued to pile up shots, forcing SU goaltender Ally Mooney to make four saves in the second half.
Playing tight defense late in games has been a trademark of the Raiders this season, but a scramble in front of the net forced Mooney to make a sprawling save on her back. A rare mistake by the Shippensburg defense led to a penalty shot. Thorwart then thwarted Shippensburg’s PSAC Championship hopes with a wrist shot into the upper-right corner of the net.
Thorwart’s goal came in the dying minutes of the game, and the Raiders did not have sufficient time to slip one past the Millersville goaltender. SU forced two corners in the last two minutes, but both chances skittered wide of the net.
“They put some pressure on us, and we didn’t respond as well as I thought we should have,” Landes said. “I know the girls are disappointed, but hopefully it will just motivate them to keep practicing and to not let this happen again.”
SU has always bounced back after losses this season, something coach Landes echoed after the game.
“You can be beaten in a game and you still have a future,” Landes said. “So, we still have next week to look forward to, [so we can] redeem ourselves and play two good halves.”
Shippensburg’s last run to the PSAC Championships in 2013 ended in heartbreak, as Millersville bested the Raiders then, as well. There is a silver lining, though. That 2013 loss to the Marauders galvanized the team, as the Raiders then went on to take the Division II National Championship that year.
The Raiders’ season continues with the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals. SU will face East Stroudsburg University Nov. 12, for the third time this season. Saturday’s game offers the Raiders a shot at redemption after dropping the first two matchups.