Perfection is tough to achieve. Many people say it is not even possible. This season, the West Chester Women’s club ice hockey team was as about as close to perfect as a team can get.During the regular season, WCU posted an impressive 9-0-2-1 record. They lost once in overtime and tied twice, but did not lose a game in regulation time all year. Their impressive record earned them an invitation to the DVCHC National Tournament, where they eventually lost to Rainy River in the championship game.
Although they lost the championship, the Rams were extremely proud of their season, and deservedly so.
During the regular season, WCU dominated their opponents, outscoring them 64-29. What may be more impressive, however, is that forward Becky Dobson matched all of West Chester’s opponents in goals, scoring 29 of her own.
“Becky is a great player. With her in the lineup everyone just raises their level of play,” Amanda Vito said. “She sets the tone for the game and she is a really smart player. The team wouldn’t have gotten where we were without her.”
Dobson finished the season with 35 points, which was the most in the league.
What Dobson did for WCU on offense, Aly Golia did for them in the net. In over 670 minutes in the crease, Golia allowed only 29 goals on 364 shots. Her goals against average was a miniscule 2.20 for the season.
“[Golia] was our backbone all season long. She came up big every time we needed her too. She’s one of the main reasons we made it to the championship game of Nationals,” Dobson said.
When a team has a goalie that allows less than thirty goals in season, and an offense that posts over 60, they are definitely firing on all cylinders. The team’s hard work paid off in a big way. WCU earned themselves a trip to the 2011 ACHA DII Women’s National Tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
On March 11, WCU began the tournament with a contest against University of Connecticut. WCU got off to a quick 1-0 lead courtesy of Daria Carzo. The Rams then entered shut down mode, holding Connecticut scoreless through about 55 minutes of play. However, with five minutes left, UCONN managed to beat Golia, tying the game. The score held through overtime and WCU received a tie for the first game.
The next day WCU came out hungry for a victory. They posted four goals against Rainy River, allowing just one goal in return. Dina DiCampli scored the first WCU goal, and Dobson scored the final three. Jess Hunt was huge in killing a 5-3 Rainy River power play late in the game, and also killing their hopes of making a comeback. Golia finished the game with an impressive 38 saves on 39 shots.
“The game against Rainy River was the best I have ever seen my team play, especially in our defensive zone,” Golia said. “Even though they out shot us 39-18, the defense kept Rainy River’s shots on the outside, which makes it easier for a goalie to make the save.”
The win against Rainy River boosted the Rams’ momentum even higher. Going into the semi-final game against Minnesota-Duluth, WCU was ready.
Vito started the scoring, giving WCU an early lead. Dobson then added to that lead, scoring her fourth goal in two games. Kristen Bowen made some great plays shorthanded in the second period, which helped WCU maintain its edge. However, late in the third, the game was a bit too close for the Rams’ comfort. Golia then made a crucial save on a penalty shot, stopping Minnesota’s momentum.
Dobson sealed the deal with an empty net goal during the closing moments of the third. With that win, WCU was set to play in the championship game Sunday afternoon. Their opponent was Rainy River; the team they had just beat the day before.
Perhaps the Rams were a bit over confident. Perhaps Rainy River’s loss the day before made them even stronger. Whatever the reason, Rainy River completely dominated the Rams in the finals, handing them an 8-1 loss. Dina DiCampli scored the only WCU goal, her second of the tournament. Physically and mentally drained, WCU was eliminated one win shy of a championship.
“I think we all were a little too confident about it because we had beat them before. Going into a game with to much confidence everyone start to run around and not really play their position,” Golia said. “It was a tough game, they were definitely the better team.”
During the tournament, Golia held a .970 save percentage, allowing only three goals. Dobson lead all players in the tournament with five goals and six points total, and Vito scored a goal of her own in addition to playing solid defense all weekend. All three players earned First Team All-Tournament honors.
Despite the loss, the Rams did not view their trip to the tournament as a failure. In fact, they thought of it as a great success. Many of the players were just happy to have made it as far as they did.
“Even though we lost in the finals, I couldn’t have asked for a better season. I was really proud of our showing at nationals,” Vito said.
The experience was just as important as the result to the Rams, and that is the mark of a strong team. “They showed great class after the game and walked out of there knowing what they had accomplished,” head coach Sean Cannon said.
WCU is certainly not the type of team to throw away the joy of the experience because of a loss. The end of this season marks the beginning of the next, where the Rams will fight to go to Nationals once again, and fight to win it all. In the off season, they will certainly reflect about their amazing run and experience this season, preparing to do it all again next season.
Kenny Ayres is a first-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.