At the start of the season, longtime Greyhound soccer coach Warren Jones called his 2018 team one of the most talented he's ever coached and claimed they would challenge for the Colonial Division title.
It was a bold statement for a team coming off a 5th place finish. But after a bit of a slow start, the Shippensburg skipper now looks like a prophet.
Winners of five of their last six contests, the Greyhounds' confidence is sky high. Tuesday saw them pick up their biggest and most impressive win of the season, as they knocked off Colonial Division contenders Waynesboro at home, 2-0.
“The guys have been playing really, really well. Especially defensively,” Coach Jones said following Tuesday's victory. “They are starting to realize what I've been telling them all year, that they are a really good team. Now they are trying to get that chemistry and are starting to gel a little bit.”
The Greyhounds 7-5-1 (5-2-1 Mid Penn Colonial) were all over the Waynesboro 7-5-1 (5-2-1 Colonial) goal early on, rattling one shot off the post and sending another just over the crossbar.
Ship finally found a breakthrough with just 3:31 remaining in the first half. Sophomore Del Morehouse ran onto a long ball from teammate Max Buhler and found open space on the right flank. The Indians were late getting back defensively, which gave Morehouse an opportunity to have a go on the Waynesboro goal. The Ship winger made no mistake, beating Waynesboro keeper Bryson Shaullwith a shot off the side of his right boot to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
The Hounds kept the pressure on, nearly adding a second goal 10-seconds before halftime. An Aiden Howard throw-in fell to the feet of Travis Bigham in the box, but Bigham's shot was parried by Shaull in goal.
Ship's two central defenders, seniors Kaiden Estep and Eli Hubbard, barely put a foot wrong as they frustrated a potent Waynesboro attack in the second half.
They were two steps ahead of their opponent at all times, snuffing out any danger before it could even get started.
“With Aiden back from being injured – we've been playing with him since freshman year – the comfort of having him back there along with Hubs and I, it just feels like we can hold down the back easier,” Estep said after the game.
Midfielder Jacob McCole did an outstanding job marking Waynesboro central midfielder Derek Buhrman, many people's preseason pick for Colonial Division MVP.
“Derek tried to make some runs out of the midfielder. We knew he was going to try and do that. He's dangerous wherever he's at, but I though Jacob did a nice job on him in the second half,” Coach Jones stated.
The Hounds found a little insurance late in the form of senior Ian Weikel.
Weikel tried to test the Waynesboro keeper from the top left corner of the 18-yard box. His initial shot was deflected, but a fortunate bounce opened the door for a follow up, and the senior floated a perfectly placed shot over the outstretched arm of the keeper and into the back of the net.
As time ticked away, the Hounds were content with just knocking the ball out of danger and salting away a terrific 2-0 win.
The win helped Shippensburg pull even with the Indians for second place in the Colonial Division, one game behind first place Greencastle (10-4, 7-2 Colonial), whom the Greyhounds meet Thursday. Shippensburg lost 6-2 to the Blue Devils at home earlier this season.
“This was a huge win,” Hubbard remarked. “We just have to keep looking forward and ahead to Greencastle. If we can beat Greencastle then we can beat anyone. We can win this division easily.”
Landon Getic was credited with 8 saves in the Shippensburg goal. The junior goalkeeper recorded his 6th clean sheet since stepping into the role after an injury to Collin Taylor, the Greyhounds starting keeper to begin the year.
“If I had to pick an MVP right now it would be Landon. Not that there is not another half a dozen MVP's out there on the field, but for what he's been asked to do and what he's done, he's our MVP,” said the Shippensburg head coach.
The Greyhounds travel to Greencastle to take on the current Colonial Division leaders Thursday evening at 7 p.m.