Women’s soccer to battle three-time defending champion Warriors in first round of playoffs

Published by adviser, Author: Oscar Matous - Rocket Contributor, Date: October 31, 2017
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The Slippery Rock University women’s soccer team concluded their 2017 regular season on Sunday when they traveled to Shippensburg University and ultimately beat the Raiders with a final score of 3-0. With the win, The Rock finish their season with an overall record of 10-5-2 (.647) and 10-4-2 (.688) in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).

The Rock now enters the PSAC tournament for the seventh consecutive season. The playoff berth is the 15th in team history. The women have been given the number sixth seed and will face off against the East Stroudsburg University Warriors, the number three seed, on Tuesday evening. The women lost their only matchup against East Stroudsburg this season 1-0.

Slippery Rock head coach Jessica Griggs called East Stroudsburg her team’s “biggest rival.”

“Every time we prepare to play East Stroudsburg the girls already have their game face on,” Griggs said.

The Rock will be led, in part, by a strong defense, highlighted by junior Kylie Downs. Downs, in her second full season in goal for The Rock, has stopped 84% of the shots she has faced this season. Downs has managed a defense that has on average allowed less than a goal per game (0.82) this season, a major step up from last year where they allowed 1.42 goals per game. Downs, a graduate of Moon Area High School, attributed her “seasoned” experience in net for The Rock to why she has been so effective in net for the Green and White.

“This year there is more trust with everyone on the field,” Downs said.

Senior Haley Burkholder and sophomore Madison Johnson lead a backline for SRU that has assisted in maintaining leads and allowing for deficits to not get any worse, Griggs said. Coach Griggs has said that the work Burkholder and Johnson have put in this season does not get enough credit. The duo, who have also combined for five goals on the season, are a major factor to why The Rock has come away with certain victories, Griggs said.

The Rock will look to juniors Skye Kramer and Brooke Testa to lead the offensive charge. Kramer and Testa both have five goals on the season, with Testa leading the team and all of the PSAC in assists on the season with nine. Sophomore Kaitlyn Barackman has also been an offensive threat to opponents this year. Barackman has scored four goals this season, all of which have all been game-winning goals. She currently leads her team in game-winners and is fourth in the PSAC in that category.

Slippery Rock also hopes to get a big performance from seniors Maddy Tletski and Tess Keeley. Tletski, who Griggs acknowledged had a slow start to the season, finished the season with four goals and two assists. Keeley finishes the regular season with two goals and five assists.

The first round of the playoffs begins Tuesday when The Rocks travels to East Stroudsburg, Pa. to take on the three-time defending champion Warriors. The Rock has been eliminated in the playoffs by East Stroudsburg for the past two seasons. Last year, The Rock’s season ended when the Warriors put up five goals in less than a total of 30 minutes of play, a game where Griggs said the final score was not something she expected.

“Last season should not have ended as it did,” said Griggs, in a stern voice.

The match on Tuesday is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Eiler Martin Stadium.

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