It was the end of an era last week, as seniors for the Shippensburg University men’s soccer team bowed out in style.
Three players were celebrated in the season finale against Slippery Rock University last Friday and were thanked by the rest of the team and the coaches for their dedication to the squad. Defenders Jamie Blair and Jan Striewe played their last game for the Raiders, ending two years of dominance in front of goalie Matt Harder, who is also graduating.
Blair and Striewe were named two of the captains of the squad at the beginning of the season by head coach Jeremy Spering who had no doubt in their leadership capabilities. The two had formed a rock-solid partnership in defense for the Raiders since they both made their debuts last season.
Both are exchange students: Blair from Scotland and Striewe from Germany. They became a reliable duo who were very hard to get past for opposing offenses. Striewe was also a big part of the Raiders’ offense as well, scoring 11 goals in his two seasons.
His scoring ability became a useful secret weapon for Spering, who at times last season would put Striewe in a more forward position later in games if the team was in search of a tying or winning goal. He had a knack for finding the back of the net, whether it was from a header off a corner or a screamer from outside the box.
Blair started every game for the Raiders in both his seasons and Striewe only missed two games as a starter his first season, but was in the starting lineup every match this season. Harder was also a big part of the squad in three seasons on the squad.
He became the Raiders’ starting goalie in 2015 as a redshirt freshman, posting a 1.46 GAA in 12 starts, earning a record of 5-7-0. Harder made 53 saves that season. He was not as busy the following season, as he only made three appearances, making 10 saves total.
Harder made 11 starts this season, finishing with a record of 4–6–2, including two clean sheets, with a 1.90 GAA. His 73 total saves are a career high and many of those saves were crucial in keeping the lead for the Raiders or in preventing a game-winning goal for the opposition.
Spering said that losing the three would be a hit to the squad, but he thought the players would be up to the task of filling the holes on defense.
All three said they have fond memories of their time at SU and on the soccer team. They said that their final game against the Rock was up there as one of their favorite memories. Earning an overtime win with less than a minute to go was definitely a great win to end their careers, they said.
Looking to the future, all three generally knew what they wanted to do after graduation. Neither Blair nor Striewe intend to return to their home countries, but they envision their futures differently.
Blair intends to pursue a career in his major in the United States, while Striewe has hopes of becoming a professional soccer player. Harder had the same idea as Blair and will search for a job in his area of expertise.