Shippensburg high school field hockey stands just three league wins from wrapping up at least a share of the Mid Penn Colonial Division championship following a big 1-0 win over the rival Big Spring Bulldogs Tuesday at home.
Like their last meeting, a 1-0 loss Sep. 18 at Big Spring, the Greyhounds (9-4,7-2 Mid Penn Colonial) came out aggressive, dominating possession for the majority of the contest against the Bulldogs (10-5, 7-2 Colonial). Unlike last time, Shippensburg finally solved the riddle that is Big Spring goalie Jaime Yaukey, getting a goal from senior Rachel Kline near the end of the first half.
The Greyhounds spent the majority of the opening half on the doorstep of the Big Spring goal. The ball popped out to an open Kline during one such scramble at the 4:27 mark. Kline took a touch to get a more favorable angle, then reached back and ripped a close in shot that deflected off a stick and past Yaukey for what would turn out to be the decisive goal.
“We knew that it was a big game. We played hard from the start and we all played together. We were very intense, and we kept that throughout the entire game,” said Shippensburg senior Zoe Holtry.
Shippensburg's game plan was to go all in offensively, even more so than in the first meeting, and it worked out exactly how Greyhound head coach Angie Hostetter had envisioned.
“Last time we were a little bit too far spread out and back. We pushed everybody up and just recovered the few times they gained possession of the ball. [The defense] recovered perfectly every time they had their breakaways and we just got more and more shots on goal,” noted the Shippensburg head coach.
Shippensburg sent a total of 15 shots at Yaukey, and the Big Spring senior saved all but one of them. She served as a brick wall in the Big Spring cage, denying the Greyhounds with a number of spectacular diving saves.
“It's so hard to lift it up over her, so in practice we worked on crossing and just getting that final shot. When we finally got it, there was just so much relief and excitement,” said Ship senior Kourtney Shoap.
The Bulldogs were held without a shot in the loss. Laney Noreika, Big Spring's leading goal scorer, was left on an island in the Big Spring attacking zone, with very few opportunities to leave her mark on the match.
The win knocks Big Spring out of first place by themselves and into a three-way tie at the top of the league with both Shippensburg and Boiling Springs (10-5, 8-2 Colonial). West Perry is not far behind them in second place (8-6-1, 6-2-1 Colonial), making for what will surely be a hectic final week of the regular season.
The Greyhounds control their own destiny thanks to head-to-head matchups at home against West Perry Oct. 15 and at Boiling Springs Oct. 16. It promises to be difficult, but the Greyhounds have a chance to win out if they bring the same intensity to those games that they played with Tuesday.
“To get that title would be great,” said Shoap. “It's our senior year and we haven't had it in I don't even know how long. We've worked our butts off and I think we deserve it.”
“Getting this win today is big for us,” Holtry added. “We have some big games coming up and I think this game was a good start for us.”
Next up, Shippensburg hosts Red Land (6-8) in a non-league matchup Thursday at 4 p.m.