In a game with major implications in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) standings, the Shippensburg University field hockey team defeated Kutztown University, 3-1, behind one of its more complete efforts this season.
The Raiders (7-4, 4-1 PSAC) battled No. 5 Kutztown through the first half, allowing only two shots.
However, one of those shots found its way into the net past Shippensburg redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Megan Lay to make it a 1-0 game. In the 25th minute, Leigh Roselli tipped in a shot from Mackenzie Fuhrman to open up the scoring.
Shippensburg answered quickly coming out of halftime. They forced a penalty corner and executed perfectly out of it to score a goal to tie the game. Junior Jazmin Petrantonio, after receiving a pass from sophomore Valen Alonso, netted her team-leading 15th goal of the season, burying the shot in the bottom right corner of the net.
Executing out of penalty corners has been something the Raiders have struggled to do this season. On Saturday night, they came in with a plan that involved making quick passes to set up a better chance to score off of their penalty corners. Coach Tara Zollinger spoke after the game about the team’s plan regarding penalty corners against Kutztown.
“We scouted Kutztown’s defense of penalty corners and we came up with six [plays] that we felt would be successful,” Zollinger said. “And a lot of those did include those quick passes and then getting a shot off.”
After Petrantonio’s goal tied the game early in the second half, both teams’ defenses took command, with a combined five shots being taken in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a much different story, as the Raiders’ offense exploded and began putting up shot after shot in an attempt to take their first lead of the game.
Shippensburg outshot Kutztown 9-1 in the final quarter of play, but KU goalkeeper Kerri Hanshaw kept all of the shots from getting past her and into the net. She made six of her eight total saves in the fourth quarter as she kept the game deadlocked leading into the final four minutes of play.
However, the floodgates then opened for the Raiders and sophomore Jenna Sluymer. SU earned another penalty corner, and after two quick passes the ball found its way onto Sluymer’s stick. She wound up and fired past Hanshaw to give the team its first lead of the night.
Less than three minutes later, Sluymer made yet another play resulting in a Shippensburg goal. After receiving a pass deep in Kutztown’s zone from senior Rosalia Cappadora, Sluymer made a no-look pass between her legs to junior Emily Stauffer, who dribbled the ball up and made a pass to sophomore Adrienne McGarrigle, who scored a relatively easy goal to extend SU’s lead to 3-1 with about one minute remaining on the game clock. The goal was her first of the season.
This season has been one filled with ups and downs for Sluymer, who finished last season with 12 goals and nine assists. She has battled injuries at times this season, and it has clearly impacted her play on the field. However, she had one of her best games of the season against Kutztown, scoring a goal and making a couple of impressive passes.
Sluymer admitted after the game she was tired at halftime, but she was able to push through and make some big plays in the second half to help the Raiders defeat Kutztown. She talked about the importance of the team’s energy throughout the game and how it helped her reach another level against Kutztown.
“The energy from the bench, it really shows. On the field, everyone wants to work for each other,” Sluymer said. “We have really been building on relationships and I think that’s the big thing. You really want to work for your teammates and just want to give that extra thing that you actually don’t have anymore.”
The Raiders have struggled to play with consistency this season, with head coach Tara Zollinger saying the team needs to put together a full game. Sluymer’s efforts spearheaded the team’s performance in the second half against Kutztown, leading to one of the team’s biggest victories of the season.
“We need to decide to play every single minute through our values. I think in the second half, we definitely did that,” Zollinger said. “When they play together and are united around our values and showing our values on the field of play, really great things happen.”
The Raiders outshot Kutztown 12-3 in the second half as they got back to playing the attacking, aggressive style of offense they have become known for.
The Raiders are in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season, currently sitting at three games. The team has notched wins over Mansfield (9-3, 3-1 PSAC), nationally ranked Millersville (10-2, 2-2 PSAC) and Kutztown on this winning streak.
Shippensburg, after moving past Kutztown on Saturday night, is currently in third place in the PSAC and just one game behind both East Stroudsburg and West Chester Universities.
The Raiders have a golden opportunity to move up in the PSAC standings when they travel to play the first place West Chester University Golden Rams (12-0, 5-0 PSAC) Wednesday afternoon.