Assoc. Sports Editor
The Crimson Hawks’ Chelsea Wanamaker wanted to make her – if I may – team clinch a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament against Division II field hockey powerhouse Millersville.
And that she did.
Indiana, Pa. (IUP) (8-10, 5-5 PSAC) did not fret when the Marauders (16-2, 8-2 PSAC) came stomping onto their grounds on Saturday. With only one loss – of 0-1, no less – under their belt, Millersville’s seven-game winning streak was halted by a passionate team trying to cling to the postseason. With one shot on goal, the Crimson Hawks put their heart and soul into the game, and it sure showed with their 1-0 victory.
“IUP needed to win to get to the PSAC playoffs,” said Millersville’s coach, Shelly Behrens. “They were fighting for that.”
Although they ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, Behrens had her team in control on the field right from the start.
In the first half of the game, Millersville outshot IUP 4-3 and quadrupled their opponent’s penalty corners 8-2. however, the Hawks’ goalie, junior Darian Shuker, was an impenetrable force, as she slapped away every attempt from Millersville’s ferocious offense, including Marauder shot-leader Rachel Dickinson.
Despite the pressure put on by the Black and Gold, it was IUP’s Wanamaker who struck first. During the 22nd minute, Wanamaker hurled the ball from 12 yards out past Marauder goalie Lauren Sotzin’s left side. The score was reminiscent of Millersville’s lone loss of the season, against top-ranked Shippensburg, of 0-1.
After Shuker blocked a try from senior Emily Litchford off of a penalty corner in the closing minutes of the first half, it would remain that way.
“We played a really hard fought game and I am proud of our players,” said Behrens. “A lot of positives from this game, as every game, we will take to make us better.”
One of those things mentioned was the Marauder’s defense throughout the game. From the first shot – and, resultantly, first goal – allowed to the end of the game, Sotzin was protected by the defense in front of her and didn’t have another shot on her goal. In the end, the Crimson Hawks only let loose four shots throughout the game.
During the final three minutes of the game, Millersville besieged Shuker for a final test. Junior Alicia Youtz was the first victim of the keeper’s impermeability. Defender Sarah Bomberger chipped in two more corners, which added on to their nine already in the game and availed to another attempt on goal; this time, it was by Dickinson. This was, again, rebuked by Shuker. Two minutes later, the game – and the season – came to an end.
But what a season it was.
“I am proud of this team for earning 16 wins and being 16-2,” Behrens said.
Sixteen: it is a number that broke the record for wins that any Millersville field hockey club has amassed during one season. In addition, their only loss before this past weekend was to the top Division II team in the nation, and their second just came to a surging IUP group that has galvanized and won five of their final six games to salvage a playoff spot.
But winning sometimes comes with its faults, Behrens cautions – especially on days after a one-goal loss.
“I think people just expect this team to win now,” she said, “and forget we play in the hardest conference and against the best competition.”