On Saturday, the Rock was able to accomplish one of their goals for the season, as they locked up the PSAC West and now have the No. 1 seed in the West. The Rock defeated Edinboro 3-2 in a comeback fashion, and the win gives them a win over every conference opponent they’ve played this year.
“I’m just proud of the girls, it’s exciting and personally, it’s been neat to watch what they’ve been doing pretty much on their own. And then reflecting and thinking, that Mark [Sappington] and I took four years to get these girls here and put the mentality together and the culture, and now that it’s here we can kind of take a step back and watch all of them. It’s been fun to step back and watch them be successful,” SRU head coach Jessica Griggs said.
At the start of the season, The Rock was projected to win the PSAC west and did exactly that, as they’ve run through competition this season. The Rock has outscored opponents 47-14, while only allowing two goals in game three times this season. Rock goalkeeper Emma Yoder has tallied six shutouts this season. This season, Yoder has received PSAC West Player of the Week honors four times.
Slippery Rock started off the season with 1-0 loss to Walsh University, but since then, they haven’t lost a home game.
“I think even that first loss that we took, we had a really really good performance,” Griggs said. “So I think that alone, allowed the girls to not get down, because we played really well and some games don’t go your way and that’s fine, but I think that was a big factor. I think my captain Tyler Spence has been really good about getting the girlsrallied after a loss, and just saying ‘we’re good, we’re fine, positive vibes from here on’ and that’s been really helpful.”
Despite not starting a game, Spence has been perhaps the most consistent player on the team. Spence has only played 660 minutes so far this season but has scored six goals and has had four assists. Spence is currently fourth on the team in points with 16 and has played half as much as the three players above her.
“It’s so cool for her and I’m so happy for her, she’s done so much for this program and she is really incredibly selfless. She’s been a three-year captain for us, and she doesn’t start and doesn’t complain and just gets the job done in every possible way she can,” Griggs said.
In the latest Regional rankings, The Rock was ranked third overall in the Atlantic region behind fellow PSAC school Bloomsburg and Concord. The Rock finished seventh last season, and only the top six teams in the rankings qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Rock hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2013, but has gotten off to one of the best starts in program history this season.
Slippery Rock’s win over Edinboro means that they will have a home game on Tuesday for the quarterfinal against either Gannon or IUP. Should The Rock win that game, they would then face a team from the PSAC east for the first time this season. The PSAC East currently has three teams in the Top 25 (#6 Bloomsburg, #15 Millersville, and #23 East Stroudsburg). Slippery Rock’s season finale and quarterfinal have the biggest implications on whether or not they will make the NCAA tournament though.
“I think that they’re ready for it and they’ve been chomping at the bit for it, we still have to get past Gannon on Saturday and we still have to get past the quarterfinals, but should we start competing with some of the East teams and regional with some MEC teams, I think the one thing that will happen is we’ll be matched up athletically with some other teams a little better and it will be a little more even,” Griggs said.
The Rock was eliminated by Bloomsburg in the first round of the PSAC tournament last season, but hasn’t played a team from the east yet this season.
The Rock has scored the most points in the PSAC this season with 47 goals and 42 assists, totaling 136 points. The Rock has nine more assists than the second closest team, as they currently have 42 this season. Their 136 points ranks fourth all-time in program history and their assist total is third in program history. The Rock also has players making program history, including Rachel Edge. Edge’s 14 goals ranks eighth in single-season program history and her eight assists is tied for ninth in single-season program history. Jordyn Minda has tied her own record for most game-winning goals in a season with four, and that sits ninth in program history.
The Rock has yet to lose on James Egli field this season, as the first loss of the season came on the turf in Mihalik-Thompson stadium. The Rock has outscored opponents 27-7 at home this season, and has yet to lose a home conference game. Since their loss to Walsh University, The Rock has scored at least one goal in every game and their winning streak of seven games following the loss is 10th all-time in program history.
The Rock extends their streak of winning seasons to 24 straight now, and that streak includes 22 straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The Rock will conclude the 2019 regular season on Saturday against Gannon at home and will begin playoff action on Tuesday at James Egli field.