If only the game lasted 57 minutes.
More than likely, that’s what the Slippery Rock University field hockey team was thinking Wednesday afternoon after surrendering two goals in the contest’s final three minutes, losing 2-1.
The Rock (1-4) hosted Mansfield (4-1) to begin a five game stand on its own turf, the team’s longest uninterrupted series of home games since 2013. The hosts were hoping to break a string of three straight defeats at the hands of the Mountaineers and all looked well early on.
Sharing the team lead in goals, assists and points through five games, junior forward Kayla Ulrich was able to take advantage of a pass from Courtney Page, by way of a penalty corner from Kalie Reed. The goal, which came only 46 seconds into the game, was the fastest to start a game in SRU history.
Only in her third season, Ulrich’s marker was her 51st career point, sharing second for points in the program’s history with Marlene Hall, who played at the school in the mid-to-late 80s.
Each team had one more chance in the first quarter, but both attempts dribbled wide.
Page and Ulrich were both denied by Mountaineers goalkeeper Brittany Ryan in the second frame, but junior Maddie Murphy kept the visitors off of the scoreboard on the other end.
The struggle to cushion the advantage continued in the second half.
A little under two minutes after the intermission ended, midfielder Abby McKay, a junior, came close to widening the gap before Ryan kicked the shot away.
Around the six minute mark of the quarter, Page and sophomore Jessie Trube fired three shots in a matter of six seconds, yet the team still couldn’t stretch its lead.
With a bit over five minutes on the clock, sophomore Emily Polakovsky had the last two chances to get Slippery Rock’s second score. Ryan deflected the first and, when Polakovsky directed it toward the goal again, Mansfield’s Caitlin Beauduy stood in the way.
There was 2:27 remaining when the Mountaineers’ Dana Evans, the PSAC’s leading scorer, put her team on the board. Less than a minute later, Larissa Motts fought into a scrum and beat Murphy to center, stealing the victory from the Rock.
“I’m just disappointed that we got complacent and didn’t finish the game,” head coach Julie Swiney said. “Because we had the opportunity to have a win today.”
“I think it’s up to the team just putting the work in and playing four quarters,” she added. “We’ve been able to play two or three, but not four. That’s really the problem.”
Slippery Rock ended the afternoon with higher totals in shots (12-11) and shots on goal (10-7.) Mansfield had one more penalty corner than their hosts.
The loss was the Green and White’s third in a row, having been downed by no. 7 Kutztown and no. 3 East Stroudsburg in a challenging weekend back-to-back.
Coker College will make the trip to Mihalik-Thompson Stadium Sunday for an afternoon matchup with the Rock, starting at 1 p.m.