A tightly contested, physical conference match with Edinboro University saw the Slippery Rock women’s soccer team emerge as the better team with a 1-0 victory. A staggering defensive effort from Rock defenders helped to secure a fourth consecutive shutout.
Scoreless in the first half of play, junior forward Kaitlyn Barackman’s goal pulled the Green and White ahead in the 56th minute. Senior forward Skye Kramer made a signature run across the left side of box, darted past Fighting Scots’ defenders, and sent a cross across the goal mouth. Barackman calmly collected the ball and chipped it over the Fighting Scots’ goalkeeper for her third goal of the season.
Barackman’s game-winner held up until the final whistle when senior goalkeeper Kylie Downs punched away a dangerous corner kick to seal the win for The Rock.
With two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Player of the Week winners, Downs and freshman Emma Yoder, in goal, the defense truly has been the unsung hero for The Rock.
“I jokingly said to my backline this week that your goalkeepers should be thanking you. Our back line is very good. Madison [Johnson] is always very good and so is Elise [Forry],” Head coach Jessica Griggs said. “We played three freshmen as outside backs today and we have a great rotation. I just think collectively our back five is doing very well.”
The Rock defense has held opponents to just 36 shots on target this season in seven games. The Green and White lead the PSAC in shutouts with six while ranking second in goals allowed with two. Stifling defense has propelled The Rock toward the top of the conference standings.
Downs and Yoder both deserve all the praise the pair have been receiving, make no mistake about that. Down’s played yet another a strong game in goal against the Fighting Scots with five saves and brought her PSAC leading shutout total to four.
“With whichever keeper, both do a great job managing [the back line]. Both of them are great shot stoppers.” Griggs said.
The relationship between Downs and her center backs, Johnson and Forry, was on full display on Tuesday afternoon as Downs called out orders for her center backs which were executed to a T. The veteran trio accompanied by three freshmen outside backs have proven to be quite hard to crack and have become one of the leading defenses in the PSAC.
A freshman revolution has continued to flourish under Griggs as a majority of the 12 freshmen on the roster have played pivotal roles for The Rock’s rotation this season. Players like freshmen Rachel Edge, Jordyn Minda and Yoder have made huge contributions on the scoresheet while players like freshmen Emily Arnold, Megan Sikora and Georgia Nagucki have not made as big an impact on the stat sheet but flourish doing the little things required to win key conference matches.
“We’re gaining a lot of experience at a young age. Going forward that holds, I don’t want to say promise, but good sights for the future.” Griggs said.
Riding a four-game win streak, The Rock has climbed into a tie for second in the PSAC with a 6-1-0 (.857) record while being 4-1-0 (.800) in the PSAC. Meanwhile, the Fighting Scots have dropped two in a row to fall to 2-5-0 (.286) with a 1-5-0 (.167) record in the PSAC.
The Green and White’s two game homestand will end on Friday, Sep. 21. as Lock Haven University will play The Rock at James Egli Field at 4:00 PM. The coming weeks will test The Rock as the toughest stretch of the schedule, with away matches against Seton Hill University, Millersville University and West Chester University, gets under way.