The No. 3-ranked Shippensburg University field hockey team posted a big 4-0 victory against No. 1-ranked West Chester University in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II tournament on a cold Thursday afternoon at Arthur J. Rooney Field on the campus of Duquesne University.
The Raiders were led by a huge effort from sophomore Jazmin Petrantonio. The standout sophomore scored all four of the team’s goals, and in the process set two NCAA Division II records.
Petrantonio tied the NCAA Division II Championships record with four goals in a game. She was the first to achieve this feat since 2004. She also now holds the title for the most career goals in the NCAA tournament. Through five NCAA tournament games so far in her career, Petrantonio has scored nine goals.
The Raiders offense has been led by Petrantonio all season long, and Thursday afternoon’s game was nothing different. After her four-goal effort against WCU, the sophomore is now up to 28 goals this season.
“It was a very special day. We didn’t notice it until right now, the record in career in-game goals,” said coach Tara Zollinger. “Jazmin will probably be very humble about it, but it’s incredible what she can do under pressure, whether it’s pressure in the game on the stage that we’re on right now.
It’s really one of a kind and I’m just really proud of her for this game because this is an opponent that we faced two times earlier in the season, had a different outcome and it was a very emotional first two games to be honest. For her to be able to come into this game with the maturity that she came into the game with, to be able to have a performance like this is phenomenal and I’m really proud of her.”
Thursday’s matchup marked the third time this season that the two teams have met, with the Golden Rams taking home victories in each of the prior two contests. The Raiders had their fair share of struggles against West Chester, but they came into Thursday’s contest armed with changes that resulted in the team moving on to the NCAA Division II finals.
“We changed a couple of things practically, and defensively we made some adjustments with our counter-defense shape,” Zollinger said. “We also made some adjustments with our outletting which limited our turnovers in the midfield and then on the corner side we changed our defensive penalty corner structure in the areas where they hurt us the last time. It was really incredible; we implemented it yesterday in practice and they went out there and executed it today so for them to be able to do that was really awesome.”
The Raiders had struggled to contain a powerful WCU offense in each of the previous two meetings this season. West Chester totaled 37 shots and 21 shots on goal in the two games against SU, and the Raiders knew that needed to change if they were to have a better shot at getting past the Golden Rams.
In Thursday afternoon’s contest, the Raiders held West Chester to only 10 shots and three shots on goal. Their offense was aggressive and the defense was doing a great job at keeping West Chester from getting the ball deep in their zone.
The opening minutes of the game were pretty even, with neither team really being able to get any good scoring opportunities. That all changed when Petrantonio scored the first goal of the game with 12:18 remaining in the first half.
“Well the first two times that we played against West Chester the games were a little close for all of us and I think that after the first goal we were all fired up,” Petrantonio said. “It was like, ‘Let’s go, we definitely can do this.’ I think that I can see that feeling in every single player I cheered the goal with. It was more of a relief feeling that we can do it and once we scored the first goal we can score two, three or four goals.
After the first goal of the game, it was like flicking a switch for the entire Raider offense. It took less than three minutes for the team to add on another goal, Petrantonio again finding the back of the net. She used her excellent stick-handling skills to weave her way past a couple of West Chester defenders before ripping a shot high into the right corner of the net to make the game 2-0.
It did not take long for the Raiders to increase their lead after the break. Petrantonio grabbed her third goal of the game to widen the SU lead to 3-0 with less than 22 minutes remaining in the second half. She took the ball off a bad pass from the Golden Rams and dribbled around a couple of defenders before once again rocketing a shot high in the net past the WCU goalie.
West Chester responded in the following minutes with a flurry of shots. Most of those shots were off target and the ones that were on net were turned aside by SU senior goalkeeper Ally Mooney. The victory was sealed only a few minutes from the end of the game with another vintage Petrantonio goal to complete her four-goal performance.
Mooney — the team’s only senior — had a good game in net for the Raiders. She made three saves and did not allow a goal. Going up against a team with as much experience as West Chester (they have 13 upper classmen), the young Raiders team needed more than just a good game in net from their lone senior.
“Mooney, on the field and off the field, I can’t say enough positive things about her leadership and how she was able to rally the team around her and get them doing what she needs them to get done in the moment and she always puts the team first,” said Zollinger. “We’re so grateful that she took her fifth year because you know you can always choose to not take your fifth year. Also with her play, she made some really good key saves early on in the game that I think she’s made because of the experience. She’s performing on and off the field and we’re grateful that she’s with us.”
The Raiders will take on Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) rival East Stroudsburg University in the finals of the NCAA Division II field hockey tournament on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. from Arthur J. Rooney Field. It is the first time that two teams from the PSAC will meet in the NCAA Division II Championship game since 1998.
Coming off of a big victory against West Chester, Mooney is sure that the team will be ready for their big matchup against ESU on Saturday.
“So obviously we’re really excited about what we just did out on the field, but we’re really good at clicking back in and looking at our next game and fortunately for us this is the national championship game,” Mooney said. “This is what we’ve been working towards all season. All of my teammates are going to be out there giving it their all 100 percent of the time in practice tomorrow and on the field on Saturday. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish.”