Shippensburg University field hockey hits the field Saturday for its third matchup against the Warriors from East Stroudsburg University in the quarterfinals of the Division II National Championships.
The Raiders will finally have their shot at redemption to knock off the team that has plagued SU all season. Two of Shippensburg’s three losses have come at the hands of the defending champions.
East Stroudsburg has been a thorn in the Raiders’ sides this season, somehow finding a way to topple the Raiders, who have sported the best record in Division II field hockey this season. SU knows its opponent well, playing extra frames in both showdowns with the Warriors this season.
Shippensburg will need to find some offense from its key players to stay alive in the knockout stages of the NCAA Tournament. Yielding goals has been uncommon for SU, but the Warriors have managed to score three against Shippensburg this season, equaling a third of all the goals allowed by Shippensburg goalies this year.
Keeping East Stroudsburg’s potent offense off the board will be a tall task for SU goaltender Ally Mooney, but Mooney and the Raiders’ defense will be up for the challenge. The Warriors have outscored opponents 50-14 this season, compared to SU’s 45-9.
However, these two squads function on stout defense, so the goaltenders look to be major deciding factors for their teams. The goaltender battle features two of the most decorated goalies in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
For the Raiders, two-time All-PSAC honoree Mooney will command the net. Mooney’s 0.39 goals-against average and .902 save percentage lead all of Division II. Danielle Ard will be in net for the Warriors. Ard has also been successful in net for East Stroudsburg, posting a .831 save percentage and allowing just 13 goals this season.
If the Raiders can manage to overcome the third-ranked Warriors, the team will hit the road for Easton, Massachusetts, for the remainder of the tournament. The winner will face off against the PSAC Champion, Millersville University. Millersville’s championship win is the only other loss the Raiders have suffered this season.
East Stroudsburg will carry the offensive edge into the final meeting between the teams this season. SU looks to have the edge in defense and goaltending, and the resilient Raiders squad will not go down without a fight. After all, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.