The players may not have reached the playoffs, but they definitely know how to end the season.
The Shippensburg University men’s soccer team capped off its 2017 season with an overtime win from Colin Marks over Slippery Rock University on Saturday at David See Field. The goal came after neither team was able to find a goal in regular time, resulting in a 1-0 win for the Raiders.
Both teams went back and forth with shots, but defense was the name of the game, as neither offense could find a real opportunity until Marks’s finish. The Raiders held a 17-13 advantage in total shots through the game, but the squads were equal in shots on target, earning six a piece.
SU also dominated in terms of corners, racking up 14 as opposed to Slippery Rock’s one. The Raiders nearly capitalized on several of the corners, but could not get the ball past the Rock’s goalie who made five saves on the day.
Marks’ goal came with less than a minute left in the second period of overtime. The ball fell to Marks at the top of the box after a corner and he rifled it into the net.
The Rock’s goalie seemed to have gotten a hand to the ball right before it went in and Marks was not sure that the shot would make it past him.
“I didn’t think it was going in,” Marks said. “It hit his hands and then went in.”
The game was marred by several questionable calls by the referees, as well as calls that seemed obvious but were not made, including a couple penalty shouts by the Raiders.
One situation occurred when Cole Kropnick was double-teamed in the box and was dragged down as he was trying to get the shot off. Coach Jeremy Spering and the Raider bench were shouting for a penalty, but none was awarded.
After the game, Spering said the calls may have not gone the teams’ way, but the game resulted in a win and that was what mattered in the end.
The Raiders ended the season with 15 points in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), the most since the 2013 season.
“Definitely a lot better than last year,” Marks said. “We’re tied for sixth place this season and our goal was 15 points, and we got the 15 points.”
Sixth place in the PSAC would normally earn you a playoff spot, but the Raiders missed out due to a tiebreaker with fellow sixth-place squad Seton Hill University.
“I’m disappointed we’re not in the playoffs,” Spering said. “I think that we do deserve to be there, but considering a lot of the adversity we faced this season, the team fought well.”
Talking about the season as a whole, Spering was quick to mention several players who had developed tremendously since last season.
“Cole Kropnick, for example, he’s bagged 10 goals this season,” Spering said. “Prior to this season, nothing.”
He attributed this to a culture change in the squad which resulted in players maturing and taking bigger roles on the team.
“You see guys like Logan Koch. He would start intermittently and all of a sudden, he’s a 90-minute starter,” Spering said
Koch will most likely be an important part of the squad next season, as the team will try to fill the gaps led by team captains Jan Striewe and Jamie Blair, who both graduate this year.
Coach Spering said it would be a challenge to replace the two, as well as goalie Matt Harder, since they are all mainstays in the team, but he felt as if the players would step up.
SU is also looking at recruits to fill the holes next season as it hopes to make its return to the playoffs in the fall.