All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for the 2008 West Chester University women’s soccer team the good thing ended a bit too soon. Also unfortunately, the same team that knocked them out of the PSAC tournament also ousted them in the NCAA playoffs: the Mercyhurst Lakers. Despite falling short of the main goal, a national championship, the Lady Rams still had a terrific season and put themselves in a position many teams crave to be in. Despite bowing out in the Regional Final to the Lady Lakers, the team had many positives to take away from their season.However, despite all the talent that will return next season as they try yet again for a national title, the team will be losing some seniors. The most notable ones are Lauren Boyer and Brittany Yetter. Boyer, a four year superstar and team captain was the PSAC East Player of the Year and a Daktronics third team All-America pick, her second straight year receiving a national honor. She was the leader of a tremendous defense which recorded six straight shut outs to open the 2008 campaign. Yetter was also a four year anchor for the team as she also was awarded a place on the Daktronics third team. At years end, she placed second on the team in total points with 27.
Two other key components, both captains, will also be graduating. Emily Palombo is Boyer’s backfield partner who also received the title of captain for this past year. Palombo was as durable as they come, starting in all 21 games she appeared in. Her leadership will be missed more than anything else as her experience in big games was invaluable. The other player is goal keeper Hilary Smart. Smart was a rock in between the goal posts for the Lady Rams all season and was always calling out signals, making sure she knew where her teammates should be.
“With our class leaving it will make them very young, but they are a talented group of girls so I think they will have success in the next few seasons,” Boyer said. “I think they have a lot of potential to do well and I wish them the best of luck.”
Despite losing the three-team captains, there is much talent that will be returning. The biggest name is Sarah Oswald. If you pay attention to the team on game day or in the paper, Oswald is a name you most certainly have stumbled upon. She just completed her second year of Lady Rams soccer and is an uber-talented player who can score from anywhere on the field. In addition to her tremendous scoring ability, she has great tenacity and instincts on the field and that showed as she led the team with 30 points.
Another player who will join Oswald again next season are freshman sensation Allye Landis, who scored her first career goal earlier in the season and had the biggest smile you will ever see after that. A possible anchor for the defense for next year is Cindi Nickles. The rest of the returning cast could include players such as Jess Bennet, an academic All-American, Jenna Arnold, a player whom many expect to form a lethal duo with Oswald, and next year’s only senior, Sam Paolino, who is the ultimate hustle player.
The returning players will take away not only what they have learned from their graduating teammates but lessons learned from some of the most intriguing games all season they participated in. Despite losing to Mercyhurst twice in late season games, the team can take away the experience of big playoff games and intense atmospheres. Also, having only one senior next year ensures an extremely bright future for the young squad.
For four years this team had been showcased by the faces of the Boyer’s, Yetter’s, Smart’s, and Palombo’s of the university. Now the team will get a new look: that of Oswald, Landis, Nickles, and Paolino. With a playoff win over East Stroudsburg in the NCAA tournament, the team knows how to win in the playoffs. Next season will be all about making strides and going even further in the postseason. But the legacy the graduating seniors leave behind is full of memories.
As Boyer put it, “It’s mainly the competition and the teammates [I will miss the most]. I have played soccer for so long that it will be weird not having it as a competitive sport anymore and I’ll miss the friendships I made as well.”
For the 2008 West Chester University Lady Rams soccer team they will be remembered for one thing: a tight bond. They always stuck together even when injuries and let downs could have been a factor. It was a talented team that became a sisterhood. They had a terrific overall season. But for the soon-to-be-alumni and the future of the team, they all still have one goal in mind and that is to see an NCAA Division II national championship brought to the campus of the purple and gold. Because as Boyer put it, the friendships were a valuable team commodity. And for your friends, you always want the best.
Mike Heiman is a fourth-year student majoring in elementary education with a minor in literacy. He can be reached at MH606613@wcupa.edu.