Wednesday marked the sixth victory of the season for the Shippensburg University men’s soccer team, as the Raiders took down the defending conference champions in East Stroudsburg University in an away game, 1–0.
SU has seemingly improved from its recent seasons, as the defense has become solid and the attack has supplied just enough goals to give the defense a cushion. After an offensive explosion to start the season — the Raiders scored 13 goals through the first three games — the team has cooled down, but has only lost one of its last seven games after dropping the season-opener.
The power on offense came from the usual suspect for the Raiders, as forward Cole Kropnick bagged his eighth goal of the season. The mark is the best in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), and Kropnick is close to passing his career-high mark of 10 goals he scored last season. His game-winner came in the 68th minute, as midfielder Patrick Luebben found Kropnick at the top of the box for the low finish. Goalkeeper Garret Watson was a wall in net, grabbing eight saves for his second consecutive clean sheet and third overall on the season. The Warriors outplayed the Raiders in many areas of the game, claiming an 8–4 advantage in shots on target, but Watson made sure those shots did not count against SU.
A final effort for East Stroudsburg came in the final minute, as it had an opportunity off a well-positioned free kick. The shot came off the top of the crossbar, just missing the top corner of the net. The win improved SU’s road record to 4–0 on the season.
The team was back to work on Saturday in its return to David See Field for another PSAC East matchup with No. 25-ranked Seton Hill University. The game was scheduled as Senior Day since it is the last home game on a Saturday for the remainder of the season. A heavy senior class was honored, including Luebben, Kropnick and Watson.
Seton Hill came into the game undefeated so far this season with a record of 4–0–4. The Griffins started out the match on the front foot, grabbing the first goal in the 21st minute off a close finish inside the box. Watson could do nothing about the shot, but he would lock down the goal for the rest of the game, making four saves to give his offense a chance.
Kropnick wasted no time bagging his ninth of the season — now just one away from his career-high — in the 30th minute to bring the score level. The ball fell to Kropnick inside the box over a scramble for the ball after a corner kick, and he smashed it home from only feet out.
The game was level for the next 13 minutes as midfielder Erik Espinoza was set loose by a beautiful through pass from Kropnick to put him one-on-one with the Griffin goalkeeper. The keeper got a slight touch on Espinoza’s shot, but the ball had enough momentum to cross the goal-line before the Seton Hill defender could clear it.
The Griffins had a 16–10 advantage in total shots on the day but were even at five apiece on goal.
The 2–1 lead was good enough for the Raiders, as their defense once again shut down the opposing offense on the way to the team’s third win on the trot and third win in a row against PSAC competition. The win improved the Raiders’ record to 7–2 overall and 3–1 in the PSAC.
The Raiders will be back in action tomorrow against Bloomsburg University. Kick off is at 4 p.m from David See Field.