VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Millersville and Shippensburg know each other very well.
They tussle annually in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play and their campuses are located near each other in Central Pennsylvania.But Friday’s meeting at the USA Field Hockey National Training Center was a different game. This time, old foes played in the second NCAA Division II national semifinal for a berth in Sunday’s national title game.
Shippensburg (19-1) prevailed 3-1, earning slot opposite LIU Post, which defeated Merrimack in Friday’s first semifinal. Sunday’s Division II championship will be played at Old Dominion’s L.R. Hill Sports Complex in Norfolk, at 1:15 p.m.
“We’re both from close Pennsylvania towns,” Shippensburg head coach Bertie Landes said. “When we come here it’s bigger and better and it just means a lot of more to us here because it’s the NCAA.”
The difference is that Shippensburg knows the NCAA tournament. The Raiders were the 2010 runners-up to national champion Massachusetts-Lowell and have additional national semifinal appearances in '12, '09, '08, '05 and '03.
Friday’s game marked Millersville’s (19-3) first national-semifinal appearance, although the Marauders do have one prior semifinal appearance as the 1985 Division III runner-up to Trenton State. Millersville head coach Shelly Behrens was a goalkeeper on Old Dominion’s 1984 national-championship team
“I don’t think we came up short,” she said. “We just didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Shippensburg scored first, on a Lauren Taylor goal at 15:48. Millersville didn’t answer until the second half – Samantha Ruane’s goal at 38:46 – and the next two goals were all Shippensburg (Ari Saytar at 51:45 and Bre White at 62:59).
“I just don’t even remember what I did,” White said of the excitement of scoring her team’s final goal. “I can’t tell you what I did. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I don’t even know who gave me that pass.”
It was unassisted. But, it was also a sign that Shippensburg had turned more than the momentum tide.
“Millersville has a really tough defense, so it’s all about ball placement and being there at the right time,” Landes said.
With the score knotted 1-1, Landes knew her players had to be in the right frame of mind to outlast their cross-state rival. Taylor said it involved some offensive adjustments; specifically how the Raiders were trying to outfox Millersville defenders.
“It was all about keeping composure,” she said. “We kind off lost our composure when we got scored upon, but it’s all about going forward. But I knew when we got our passing back we were going to be okay.”
Despite the loss, Behrens was positive about the national semifinal experience and what it means to future Millersville teams.
“I think just being here now has prepared us to get to the next step,” she said.