A pair of draws, against Lock Haven University and Gannon University, halted the Slippery Rock women’s soccer team’s four-game winning streak over the weekend. Although the string of wins was snapped, the Green and White still have not been defeated in six games now.
Friday’s match hosting Lock Haven went a full 90 minutes without a goal breaking the seal and two overtime periods could not produce a goal in a 0-0 draw for The Rock. Sunday’s away contest with Gannon tested the resolve of the squad after falling behind 2-0 after the 30th minute. The Rock battled back to secure a 2-2 draw after two periods of scoreless overtime.
Freshman goalkeeper Emma Yoder put up a nine-save shutout, her third consecutive, as The Rock defense stymied LHU’s buzzing attack on Friday afternoon at James Egli Field. Both offenses were unable to find the back of the net in the 0-0 draw.
A back and forth game broke open in the second half as the Bald Eagles fired off nine shots opposed to The Rock’s two. In the 79th minute, Yoder was forced to extend to full length in order to make a diving save on Golden Eagle’s forward Marah Foltz. The sequence was not over as Yoder dove back across the goal mouth, snagging a follow-up chance from the Golden Eagles to quell the dangerous attack.
Perhaps Yoder’s greatest strength, the freshman goalkeeper’s brain is always hard at work.
“She’s a very good goalkeeper and she’s a kid who loves to learn, so she takes information that she learns and tries to apply it right away. On top of that, she has great character, so her leadership is great,” Head Coach Jessica Griggs said.
With Yoder prowling between the goal posts for the Green and White, the offense was tasked with cracking the Golden Eagles’ defense open.
While generating chances throughout the game, The Rock’s only shot, and best chance to seal the win, came early in the second overtime period. Freshman forward Reagan Reeves darted through the Golden Eagles’ defense and put a shot on goal which was saved by the outstretched hands of the opposing goalkeeper.
The scoreless draw dropped The Rock to 6-1-1 with a 4-1-1 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) record. The Green and White did not have to wait long for another chance to extend their point streak. An away match against Gannon was the second in three days for The Rock and the fourth in eight days. Griggs was not worried about the team’s conditioning.
“We do a lot of recovery sessions from light jogs, foam rolling, some light lifting. That’s one of the best ways we can keep them fresh from carrying such a heavy workload.”
Resting up on Saturday, The Rock was quickly back in action against Gannon on Sunday afternoon.
A late strike from freshman midfielder Jordyn Minda completed a two-goal comeback against Gannon on Sunday but the deficit proved insurmountable as The Rock settled for a second consecutive draw, 2-2.
A quick strike from the Golden Knights in the 2nd minute followed by a set piece goal in the 30th minute could have easily demoralized a team running on fumes following a hard-fought draw just a couple days earlier.
Senior goalkeeper Kylie Downs rallied the team, making seven of her eight saves after the Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead to guide her team back from the brink.
The veteran leadership from Downs helped keep The Rock in the match as the Golden Knights peppered shot after shot toward goal. 26 shots were attempted with 10 requiring a save. Having two highly capable, outspoken goalkeepers on the same squad may lead to conflict on other teams but not in this case.
“The goalkeeper core [Downs, Yoder and sophomore Kara Seebacher] … it is very respectful, united, strong. They have a fun respect for each other,” Griggs said.
Looking for a break to help ease back into the match, a chance finally materialized in the 35th minute for The Rock.
Committing a foul in The Rock’s box, the Golden Eagles gave away a penalty to the Green and White five minutes after doubling their own lead. Senior forward Skye Kramer took the penalty for The Rock and calmly slotted the ball past the opposing keeper. The veteran forward’s goal pulled the deficit back to only one at halftime.
With time winding down in the second half, senior forward Brooke Testa made a run into the Golden Knights’ half and sent a long cross down the left side of the box. Minda, the recipient of the pass, collected the well-placed ball and blasted it past the opposing goalkeeper to level the score at two apiece.
Minda has proven to be a sparkplug for The Rock this season, using her pace to make an impact on both sides of the pitch.
“She has a ton of pace so offensively and defensively, she does very well in transition,” Griggs said.
After forcing overtime, Kramer nearly fired The Rock to victory in the 94th minute on a blistering shot that required a save from the Golden Knights’ goalkeeper. A laser shot in the second overtime drifted just high over the crossbar.
The final whistle blew a few minutes later, concluding the match in a 2-2 draw.
The Rock moves to 6-1-2 (.778) with a 4-1-2 (.714) record in the PSAC following the consecutive draws to conference opponents. The Green and White sit sixth in the PSAC, two points off first place East Stroudsburg University.
Minda’s four goals this season pace the squad and also give the freshman midfielder the team lead in points at eight. Kramer has moved into second in points with seven on two goals and three assists. Freshman forward Rachel Edge rounds out the top three with six points on one goal and four assists.
An arduous stretch of conference play begins on Wednesday with No. 20 Seton Hill University on the road followed by PSAC leaders East Stroudsburg at home the following Saturday. Coming away with at least four points in these two games will prove crucial to The Rock’s chances of staying competitive within the conference.
While draws are hardly the most encouraging result, Griggs feels that her squad has a bit of chip on their shoulders now moving forward.
“They’re going to be hungry for three points.”