The Slippery Rock University field hockey team evened up their overall and conference records (6-6, 4-4) with a pair of 2-1 wins over Mansfield University and Seton Hill University this week.
Mansfield opened up the scoring on Saturday by scoring a goal 8:28 into the game to take a 1-0 lead. That would be Mansfield’s only shot of the entire game, as SRU out-shot them 23-1.
The Rock was held scoreless until the 62nd minute when sophomore forward Michelle Couch scored her second goal of the season, assisted by sophomore forward Megan McKay. It was McKay’s team leading fourth assist on the year.
The game remained tied until the final minute of play, when SRU was awarded a penalty corner. Sophomore forward Kylie McCarty just missed giving the Rock the lead when she hit the post with a shot with :39 left. In the ensuing scrum in front of the net, Mansfield was called for a foul with 35.2 seconds left. This gave the Green and White a penalty shot. Senior midfielder Kelsey Gustafson got the call to take the shot. Gustafson stepped to the line and flicked the ball past the goalie to give the Rock the 2-1 lead with her fifth goal of the season. She is now 3-3 in penalty shots this season.
Freshman forward Kailee Krupski led the team with five shots as SRU broke their brief two game losing streak.
The Rock traveled to Seton Hill Tuesday to take on the winless Griffins. This was another tight defensive battle as the first half was played to a scoreless tie.
Seton Hill struck first in the second half, scoring less than a minute into the half to take a 1-0 lead. This lead held up until the 57th minute, when redshirt junior defender Baylee Childress scored her first goal of the season to tie the score 1-1. Redshirt senior forward Allison Shade picked up her second assist of the year on the play.
The score remained tied for the remainder of regulation and the first overtime period. Sophomore midfielder Renee Rosenblum, playing in only her fourth game of the year, broke the tie with her first goal of the season and sent the Rock home victorious. McKay picked up her fifth assist of the year.
“It is exciting to have Renee back on the field this fall,” SRU head coach Julie Swiney said. “It was great to see her execute under pressure in our double overtime win.”
The Rock outshot the Griffins 22-7, with McKay leading the way with six shots. Junior goalie Carlee DuMars made four saves in the win.
SRU has had nine of their 12 games decided by one goal, going 5-4 in those games.
Swiney is impressed with her team’s ability to win the close games.
“Our team is a determined group who is willing to work hard for 70 minutes (or more) no matter the opponent,” Swiney said. “This has helped us to come from behind several times and win two overtime games.”
Gustafson echoed Swiney’s comments, saying that the team is proud of the way they’re playing.
“We are proud of the hockey that we are putting together out there on the field, 25 players strong,” Gustafson said. “Every game has been a hard fought battle, and in the PSAC any team can win on any given day.”
Entering the final three weeks of the season, the Rock occupy sixth place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs.
The PSAC is the top Division II conference in the country, with the top three teams and four of the top seven in the country coming from the conference. Despite the difficulty of the conference, Gustafson has her sights set high.
“As a senior, it would mean everything to make it to the playoffs this year,” Gustafson said. “We have done it in the past and I know we have the capability to make it there again this year.”
The Rock will honor its five seniors on Saturday at 12 p.m. when they take on Kutztown University at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium on Senior Day.