It was a cold and bitter Sunday afternoon when the women’s soccer team took on Slippery Rock for the PSAC championship. The Rams played host and defeated the visitors 2-0. The win sends the Golden Rams into the NCAA Women’s Soccer tournament with an automatic bid from the PSAC while Slippery Rock will have to wait and hope to gain an at-large bid. “We played great soccer today, we always have to look at our last game. I think the tournament is wide open, if we continue to play like we played today we can go very far,” head coach Kempf Townsley said about the victory and the automatic bid.
The victory for the Rams was not easy, Slippery Rock came to South Campus Field and played a tightly contested match which was scoreless for most of the game.
The first scoring chance came off a free kick in the 11th minute. As Slippery Rock was attempting to clear the ball, one of the defenders feet struck Brittany Yetter in the upper body. Yetter walked off on her own power and the Rams received an indirect kick from inside the box. The shot was heading straight into the goal but a Slippery Rock defender was able to volley the shot out of the box to bail their goaltender out and keep the score tied at 0-0. Yetter returned to play minutes later after the hard hit and would make a large impact later.
West Chester managed to hit two balls of the crossbar in the first half. The first came on a free kick that Yetter sent towards the goal and just off the bar. Towards the end of the first half it was Sarah Oswald beating two Slippery Rock players off the dribble setting up Christine Thurwanger to slam the ball off the crossbar and just out of the reach of Danielle Gerz.
The game went into halftime scoreless with the Rams dictating the play. Lauren McManus, the Slippery Rock goalie, was forced to make five saves to keep the score knotted through forty-five minutes. The Rock brought a physical game to South Campus Field picking up 9 fouls along with a yellow card to the Rams 4 fouls at halftime.
Danielle Gurtz set up a penalty kick in the 73rd minute when the Rams won the ball from the Slippery Rock defender and sent a cross into the middle. To stop Gurtz from heading the ball into the empty net the defense was forced to trip her from behind and set up a penalty kick.
With the championship hanging in the air it was Brittany Yetter, who had been previously injured, put on the stop to take the penalty kick.
“It was most nervous I’ve ever been, but at the same time I was confident. I knew I had to score for the team,” Yetter said about the penalty kick.
Yetter did not show that nervousness at all. She stepped up to the ball and booted it into the right side netting of the goal to put the Rams up 1-0.
Frustrations were running high on the Slippery Rock bench following the go-ahead goal as the Rock coach was avidly shouting at the referees and was issued a warning by the side judge for leaving her coaching area. With the championship on the line, Slippery Rock began to pull their forwards into an attacking position.
With just 15 minutes remaining in the game the Slippery Rock forwards sent a cross into the middle that was headed right on goal but Junior Goaltender Brittany Barnes was their to make the save and hold the 1-0 advantage for the Rams.
At the 86th minute of the contest, first year player Sarah Oswald stripped the Slippery Rock sweeper of the ball and went in all alone with McManus. McManus ran out to challenge and Oswald made a move with her right foot to get past the keeper and deposited the goal into the empty net to give the Rams insurance and a 2-0 lead.
Oswald was named MVP of the tournament in her first year of collegiate play.
Sarah Oswald is one of the young keystones to the Rams soccer team which thst picks up yet another PSAC Championship.
“It is great because it shows we have not only success now but we have a bright future, we need to build on that,” Kempf Townsley said about her young players making an impact in their first season.
The Rams will now have to await their first opponent in the NCAA tournament.
“Going three times in a row (to the NCAA tournament) and having a chance to play in it is overwhelming. I’m so excited. Overjoy,” Yetter said
The weekend started off with a bang for the West Chester Lady Rams soccer team as freshmen Christine Thurwanger scored the first goal of the PSAC postseason tournament just thirty two seconds into the game en route to a 3-0 victory in the semifinal round.
The game was evenly matched affair between division rivals. After WCU’s early opening goal, the ball spent an equal amount of time at each end of the field, as both defenses did a good job of keeping it out of the box.
There was a close call with 21 minutes remaining in the first half, as East Stroudsburg was driving in West Chester’s zone, the ball made its way into the goal. It turned out to be a handball on East Stroudsburg, meaning that the goal did not count. The rest of the half was back and forth, with West Chester holding a 1-0 advantage.
West Chester opened the second half just as they did the first. This time the goal came off the foot of Jessica Bennett. This marked her first career goal as a Lady Ram, occurring three minutes into the half.
The third insurance goal came from the teams leading scorer, freshmen Sarah Oswald. She led the team in the season with fifteen goals and 32 points, and notched her 16th goal of the season in the second half. Oswald did this by beating a Warrior defender one on one and skirting the ball around the goalkeeper.
Goalie Brittany Barnes was flawless in the match, impressive for her first postseason game. The defense did a fantastic job of keeping the ball out of the box, allowing only five shots on goal, and Barnes did the rest. This was her fourth shutout of the year.
“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to find out about the next team we’re playing and try to do the best to counter them and play our game,” Kempf Townsley said.
West Chester advances to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year. At press time, the schedule has not been set for this week’s playoff games. Check www.wcupagoldenrams.com for updates throughout the week.
Ken Schmidt is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at KS609536@wcupa.edu.
Ryan Frisco is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu