The Shippensburg University women’s soccer team lost its first game of the season, a 1–0 loss to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) rival Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon at David See Field.
The score was close the whole game, with both teams exchanging scoring opportunities. SU’s sophomore goalkeeper Delaney Shifflett and IUP goalkeeper Madeline Smakulski starred Saturday, holding the two teams to a combined one goal. Shifflett, who struggled to begin this season, made six saves and allowed the game’s lone goal.
Shifflett struggled during her freshman year, allowing 1.5 goals per game and finishing with a 0.794 save percentage. The Raiders needed her to improve her play in goal to have success, and that is what she did.
Shifflett, through four games this season, has given up 0.75 goals per game while having an improved 0.864 save percentage. She is also tied for second in the conference with two shutouts through four games to begin the year.
One of the reasons for Shifflett’s improved play might stem from a vastly improved defense playing in front of her. Shifflett has only needed to make 4.75 saves per game. The Raiders defense has been stepping up and locking down the opposing offense.
SU currently sits at 3–1, with a 2–1 PSAC record, following a disappointing year where they finished 6–11–1 (5–11 PSAC). On Saturday afternoon, Shifflett put together another great game. The one goal she did allow, however — Kallie Conte in the 31st minute of the game — proved to be the difference.
The SU offense, which had scored three goals per game heading into Saturday’s game against IUP, was shut down. IUP barely outshot SU 14–11 (seven to six in shots on goal). SU put some good shots on the board, but none of them got past IUP goalkeeper Madeline Smakulski. Senior Beth McGee and junior Izzy Weigel led the Raider offense with three shots each.
SU has, however, been improving its play consistently from where it was last season. After beginning last season 1–2–1, the Raiders have taken big strides this season, resulting in a 3-1 start. However, the tight loss to IUP — their first loss of the season — still hurts. The loss against IUP followed three consecutive wins to start the season against Shepherd University, Edinboro University and Mansfield University.
It will be interesting to see how this young team bounces back from a tough conference loss. If Shifflett can continue to play well in goal, then the Raiders have a solid chance in any game they play. The Raiders’ offense will also need to regain the momentum it had in the opening three games when they outscored their opponents 9–2.
SU will look to bounce back from its tough loss to IUP and continue its good start to the season when it takes on Clarion University on Saturday at 1 p.m. from David See Field.