The Shippensburg University field hockey team cemented itself a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament with their 1-0 win against Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) on Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders (10-5, 7-2 PSAC) battled against IUP, defeating them by a narrow margin of a penalty stroke goal in the 33rd minute by junior Jazmin Petrantonio.
The Raiders totaled 17 shots, but they were hard -earned.
“I think IUP, their record doesn’t display the type of team they are,” said SU coach Tara Zollinger. “They are a very good team — defensively, they are very tricky. They have some midfield players that are very challenging to get around.”
The Raiders succeeded in drawing a lot of penalty corners against IUP, recording a 12-6 advantage in the category. However, they failed to execute well on any of them. Throughout the season, penalty corner execution has been something Zollinger has stressed on improving.
“I feel like the team penalty corners need to be better executed on,” Zollinger said. “We had a lot of just missed skill on our attack penalty corners, like a poor insert or a poor stick stop, so we really have to review those. That’s a big part of our game, we draw a lot of them in a game and we have to be able to score off them.”
If the Raiders are to make another national championship run this season, they will have to execute better and more consistently on their penalty corners.
With a 1-0 lead and under four minutes remaining in the game, Zollinger felt she could give redshirt senior Megan Hart some time on the field. This was not just a normal substitution for the Raiders. Hart was diagnosed in 2017 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and she battled through and came out on the other side. Before stepping onto the field late in the fourth quarter, she had not played in a game since the 2016 season.
Zollinger spoke after the game about Hart’s passion and determination as well as how she has been an inspiration for the rest of the team.
“Meg is the most resilient person I have ever met. She’s so passionate about Ship hockey and she’s so determined to achieve her goals,” Zollinger said. “I’m not surprised she got to this position where now she is able to play, but I’m really proud of her. I think she is such an inspiration for the whole team every single day at practice with how hard she’s working. The intangibles she’s bringing day-in and day-out is just motivating our team and giving them that little bit extra motivation.”
It was a special day for Hart, not only because she was able to step back out onto the field but also because it was Senior Day. The Raiders honor their senior class, which includes Hart, Autumn Beattie, Rosalia Cappadora, Mikayla Cheney, Megan Green and Annie Megonnell.
“I think this senior class really embodies pride for Shippensburg,” Zollinger said. “They have so much pride for their university and this program. Pride and passion, that’s their legacy here.”
The team’s win on Saturday clinched it a spot in the PSAC Tournament. The Raiders will be playing for seeding in their final two games of the season. SU will be either the third or fourth seed in the conference and can host a first-round game if they hold onto the third seed they are currently in.
The Raiders have been one of the more dominant teams in the PSAC for most of the previous decade. This season has been different, though, as the team struggled early in the season and had to fight its way back into a position where it can potentially host a first-round game in the PSAC tournament.
SU has won eight of its last 10 games, effectively rebounding from a slow start. The Raiders have built resiliency in being able to bounce back after a slow start to the season. Zollinger talked after Saturday’s game about both the team’s resiliency and mindset moving forward.
“September shapes your November, but no one remembers September when November rolls around,” Zollinger said. “We want to make sure that we get to November. We want to be playing deep into November and what that means is that we had to dig deep and build some resilience.
“We didn’t necessarily want to have the record we have now, but it is what it is. It’s nothing to really reflect on until after the season. Right now we have to stay present game by game because we are one step closer to being able to host that first game, which is one of our short-term goals.”
The Raiders have two games remaining in their season, both of which are on the road. They next take on Frostburg State University on Wednesday afternoon.