The Shippensburg University men’s soccer team has exceeded all expectations so far this season.
After missing the playoffs last season with a 7–8–2 record, the Raiders now sit in fourth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with a 9–3–3 record. After its latest matchups with West Chester University and Mercyhurst University, the team clinched its first playoff berth since 2013.
In its final home contest of the regular season against WCU, it seemed like the team would have an impressive day after getting started on offense early. Freshman defender Julian Horstmann scored the opening goal for the Raiders from a corner kick by senior forward Cole Kropnick. It was the second consecutive game with a tally for Horstmann.
The offense almost completely stalled for the rest of the afternoon and the Golden Rams were able to butt their way back into the match. It only took them 13 minutes to find their first goal of the game with a header off a corner, making it 1–1 going into halftime.
Neither team could grab the win, although both had great opportunities. Kropnick had a chance to add to his conference-leading goal tally (11) early in overtime. He was left open in the box and had a point-blank header saved by the WCU goalkeeper. Chances were limited after that point and SU was handed its third consecutive draw — a school record.
The team moved forward and focused on the upcoming match with Mercyhurst on Saturday.
The game had difficulties with the weather, resulting in the game not starting until two hours after its original scheduled time. Officials were later forced to postpone the game after more storms came through the area late in the first half.
The Raiders had jumped out to a 2–0 lead Saturday before the referees called off the game. Kropnick scored both goals, but the progress did not count as the match started fresh the following day. SU wanted to play until halftime and pick up the game for the second half on Sunday, as the team was playing well and did not want to lose the success it had up to that point in the match.
Instead, the game was restarted and the score was 0–0 again. The Raiders did not get off to the fast start they had experienced the previous day, instead finding themselves down 2–0 less than 20 minutes into the game.
Mercyhurst jumped on the Raiders early in the game, scoring the first goal in just the game’s 4th minute.
After a miserable, rainy weekend, during which they had to travel five hours to Erie, Pennsylvania, to play half of a match they were winning only for it to be postponed, it all ended with a disappointing loss that could have been avoided.
Despite the weekend’s issues, the Raiders went into the Mercyhurst game knowing they had clinched a spot in the PSAC playoffs.
If SU wins its season finale against Slippery Rock University on Saturday, David See Field will host a quarterfinal matchup. If they lose, the Raiders will have to travel to face their opponent.
Kickoff against Slippery Rock is at 3:30 p.m. as the Atlantic Region No. 4-ranked Raiders look to end their regular season on a high note away from home.