After getting off to a slow start this season, the Shippensburg University field hockey team seems to have bounced back with an offensive explosion against Bloomsburg University.
The Raiders (4-3, 1-0 PSAC) pummeled the Huskies (2-5, 0-1 PSAC) by the score of 5-1 on Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at Robb Sports Complex.
Junior Jazmin Petrantonio, for the second consecutive game, led the way for the Raiders. She put together a hat trick and an assist while also leading the team in shots with nine (eight shots on goal). Over the last two games, she has scored nine goals and, through seven games, she is tied for the PSAC lead in goals with 12.
The Raiders’ potent offense has effectively rebounded after a rough stretch of games where they averaged only 1.8 goals per contest and were shut out twice.
One of the things the team struggled with early in the season was executing out of penalty corners.
“We have made attack penalty corners a priority and will continue to in the coming weeks,” said SU head coach Tara Zollinger. “The athletes have done a good job focusing on each piece of the corner.”
The work the team has put in has produced instant results. On Saturday, the Raiders scored the game-winning goal off of a penalty corner in the 23rd minute.
The Raiders, mostly due to an emphasis on staying focused on what is in front of them, have been able to weather the storm and get back to playing the way they have over the previous three seasons, all of which ended in a national championship.
“This team is really working to stay present and focused on where our feet are,” Zollinger said. “We are not looking to the past or worry about the future but instead working together in the present moment. I think this mindset is what has allowed us to bounce back.”
Over the last two games, the Raiders have come back to playing the aggressive, style of play for which they have become known. SU outshot Bloomsburg 18-7 while not giving the Huskies very many good scoring opportunities.
What made Saturday’s performance all the more impressive was that Shippensburg was without one of the top players on the team, Jenna Sluymer, due to injury. Sluymer is second on the team in goals with four.
“I think it shows the strength of the team,” Zollinger said. “We are eager to get Jenna back on the field, but in the meantime her teammates are doing a great job.”
With Sluymer out, some of the other players stepped up on offense. Sophomore Valen Alonso scored her first goal of the season while being very active on offense, totaling three shots on goal.
The Raiders have also worked on improving their team chemistry, something that has shown up on the field through an improved passing attack and better team communication.
“As a staff, we were very proud of the team win today. We’ve been working on our off-field relationships and team chemistry and we saw the benefits of such work on the field through their awareness of teammates and the passing game,” Zollinger said. “We are very proud of this level of our growth as a team.”
Up next for the Raiders is a big game against East Stroudsburg University (8-1, 1-0 PSAC) on Wednesday afternoon at Robb Sports Complex. The game has been selected for the NCAA Division II National Showcase.