The Slippery Rock University field hockey team (9-10) was knocked out of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs by No. 3 ranked Shippensburg University (15-3) in the conference quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Shippensburg defeated the Rock 1-0.
The Rock qualified for the playoffs as the sixth seed despite losing a narrow contest to top ranked West Chester 2-1 on Saturday in their season finale. SRU ended the regular season at 9-9 overall and 7-7 in the conference. Shippensburg wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard, scoring just 64 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead. As it turned out, that would be all they would need.
Shippensburg outshot the Rock in the first half 7-3, as they took the 1-0 lead into halftime.
SRU came out in the second half determined to change their fortunes. They continued to play defense, limiting Shippensburg to only two shots in the second half, while cranking up the offense. Their best scoring chance of the game came in the 60th minute when they were awarded two penalty corners and were able to get off four shots, but each one was denied. Shippensburg recorded their fourth straight shutout.
SRU junior goalie Carlee DuMars made two saves in the loss. Redshirt junior defender Baylee Childress and sophomore midfielder Kylie McCarty led the team with two shots a piece.
For the season, senior midfielder Kelsey Gustafson led the way offensively with five goals. Sophomore forward Megan McKay chipped in with a team leading five assists.
On the defensive side of the ball, DuMars played every minute in goal as she recorded three shutouts on the season and ended up with a 1.35 goals against average and a .763 save percentage. Childress led the way with nine defensive saves, with Gustafson helping out with six defensive saves, good for first and second place in that category in the conference. Gustafson also added to her decorated career by being named to the first team all-PSAC squad.
Even though this season ended in disappointing fashion, it was a historic season for the Rock. They had the fourth best win total in school history, which included a record tying five game winning streak. This was also the first non-losing regular season the team has had since 1998.
Despite the loss, freshman forward Kailee Krupski is optimistic about the future.
“I would definitely consider this season a success,” Krupski said. “We set a lot of goals for ourselves before the season began, and we achieved most of them, the most important one to all of us was making PSAC’s. All in all, I think this season was very successful, but there’s always room for improvement, and I believe we can be even better in the years to come.”
This team has come a long way in a short period of time. When head coach Julie Swiney took over the program five years ago, it hadn’t won more than five games in any of the previous 12 seasons. In that time period, the Rock had won a total of 29 games. Since 2010, Swiney has led them to at least six wins in each season, while compiling 35 wins and three playoff appearances.