Shippensburg University field hockey looks for its second national championship against Long Island University Post, Sunday, at Stonehill College.
This season’s script is eerily similar to SU’s 2013 national championship season, where Shippensburg dropped the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship to Millersville University, beat Millersville in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships and then went on to face LIU Post in the finals.
SU’s last match against LIU ended in glory, and the Raiders plan on reaching that summit once again.
“It’s been unique,” said head coach Bertie Landes. “There have been a lot of things that have happened throughout the season that have really mimicked 2013. But this is 2016 and we’re just playing out our year and enjoying each day.”
No. 1 ranked Shippensburg may be taking on the hottest team in the country, as LIU Post has rattled off eight wins in a row going into Sunday’s match. Post took down Saint Anselm College in a 1–0 overtime win in the NCAA Semifinals. Post’s Friday game was a rematch of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game. LIU Post emerged victorious in both matchups.
The two teams almost mirror each other offensively, with SU holding a slight lead in goals scored, 48–47. These stats may not be entirely indicative, though, as SU plays in a tighter conference.
On the defensive end, Shippensburg has had a notably better track record this season insulating its goaltender. Shippensburg’s 10–17 goals-against advantage is critical for taking the national title. Although LIU Post has had eight shutouts of its own, the team also gave up four multi-goal games.
Shutting down LIU’s top scorer will be a major point of focus for Landes. Post’s Emily Miller has 20 goals on the season, tied for the most in Division II this season. Miller scored the overtime winner to send LIU Post to the NCAA Finals.
Mooney dominated Division II this season, taking the top spot in nearly every major goaltending category. Her save percentage sits at over .900 compared to her opponents’ .795 percent. Mooney also has double the shutouts of her counterpart.
Shippensburg’s key to victory lies in the Raiders getting on the board first. A hot start could seal the game for SU, as the team has only given up one first-half goal this season. Protecting goaltender Ally Mooney in the second half gives Shippensburg its best chance to take home the gold.
Sunday’s game to close the 2016 field hockey season will go down as one of the most historic runs in team history. For Landes, it may also be the most sentimental one. “We’re a team of destiny,” Landes said. “We’re trying to leave a legacy of our number 22, Amanda Strous.”