The Shippensburg University field hockey team advanced to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) semifinals by defeating No. 6-ranked Bloomsburg University 2-1 in overtime on a cold Tuesday night from David See Field.
With just under three minutes remaining in the first overtime period, the Raiders forced a crucial penalty corner against BU. SU head coach Tara Zollinger drew up a play for the team’s leading scorer, Jazmin Petrantonio. However, Petrantonio was not open and that left the ball on the stick of junior Rosalia Cappadora. Cappadora, off the corner entry from sophomore Sarah Womer, took a great shot that pushed the Raiders to the PSAC semifinal.
“The corner was set up for me to receive and pass to Jazmin on the left side of me, but the defense shifted to her, which they naturally do because she is such a threat on the field,” Cappadora said. “To take the better option and take the shot obviously paid off in the end.”
The goal by Cappadora ended what was a back-and-forth affair where the Raiders struggled at times. The first half was mostly dominated in both shots and possession by the Huskies, who outshot the Raiders 12–4 and 4–2 in shots on goal. The Raiders were a bit too hyped up for this game, resulting in a slow first half in which their offense was not able to do much.
“Honestly, I think it was a little bit more on our side. We were really frantic and we were a little too over-excited with this being our first playoff game (of the season),” Cappadora said when asked about the team’s first half struggles. “To take that out of it and calm back down and stick to what we know and really work together, that really picked us back up and turned us back around so that we were able to connect and do those little link ups that we love to do.”
BU put its lone goal of the game past SU’s only senior, goalkeeper Ally Mooney, in the seventh minute of the first half. Bloomsburg’s Ali McKay took advantage of a perfect rebound opportunity to get one through the legs of Mooney to put the Huskies on the board.
Toward the end of the first half, the Raiders ran into some trouble with an on-field collision between Bloomsburg’s Willow Perkins and Shippensburg defender Mikayla Cheney. Both players missed the remainder of the first half while getting checked out on the sidelines for injuries.
Less than a minute later, SU freshman Jenna Sluymer was shown a green card, meaning that she had to leave the field for two minutes. For the final minutes of the second half, Zollinger made the decision to move Petrantonio to defense to help the Raiders counter the injury to Cheyney and the green card to Sluymer. Both Perkins and Cheyney came back at the beginning of the second half.
The Raiders came out with more energy in the second half, outshooting the Huskies 9–3 and 5–2 in shots on goal. Their passing was more efficient and connected, resulting in a ton of good scoring opportunities. However, Bloomsburg goalkeeper Dana Sheply was having a fantastic game in net. She finished the game with eight saves and two goals allowed.
BU may have had its best chance of the game to put the Raiders away relatively early in the second half. They had two-point blank shots that Mooney was able to deny and, with the ball loose in front of the net, the Raider defense rebounded and cleared the ball out of its zone. Mooney had one of her best games of the season, making seven saves and allowing only one goal.
SU’s offense in the second half was led by Petrantonio, who seemed determined to not lose the game. In the 42nd minute of the game, she exhibited excellent stick handling abilities as she wove her way through five Bloomsburg defenders in a highlight-reel play before putting a shot into the side of the net.
In the 47th minute of the game, Petrantonio’s efforts finally paid off when she once again wove her way through the BU defense before getting her shot past Sheply. The goal was Petrantonio’s 20th — and arguably most important — goal of the season.
The game wound up going into overtime, where Cappadora’s goal off of the corner entry pass gave the Raiders the win. After having a slow first half on offense, they got back to doing what made them one of the PSAC’s most powerful, dominant offenses throughout this season.
“They scored on us first and that’s always tough to come back from. To be able to work together and get back to our game plan and really get the job done,” Cappadora said when asked about how important the game was to the team. “That meant a lot to get one on the board in regulation because in overtime we knew that if we didn’t win this game it could have been our last. We all buckled down and played like it. You could feel it through every person and every play that we knew that that ball could be our last so we were putting it all in.”
The Raiders took on PSAC rival East Stroudsburg University — a team that has proven to be a thorn in SU’s side this season — in a PSAC semifinals matchup at West Chester University on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.