After weeks of complicated playoff scenarios for the men’s soccer team, Sunday afternoon’s objective was clear: defeat Bloomsburg at Farrell Stadium and make the playoffs, lose or tie the game and the season would be over. With one game deciding West Chester’s playoff fate it was freshman midfielders Ricky Williamson and Zac Tassone that led the team to a dominating 8-1 victory.
“When we get into the second half of the season, you want the senior class to go out in the best way they possibly can,” said head coach Kendall Walkes. “Make sure they play in games of significance.”
It was the first year students that made sure the seniors would get one more shot at the playoffs.
Williamson started the scoring when Frank DuMas sent a ball through the Bloomsburg defense and Williamson took one touch and deposited it in the back of the net. Williamson would not settle for just one goal as just minutes later he was able to get an inside position on the defense and finish off Jason Mackel’s cross with a diving header. Finally, Williamson finished off a natural hat trick, three goals, all in a row, with another head ball off a cross from David Miller that beat the goaltender to the far side.
“I just like scoring goals,” Ricky Williamson said following his hat trick. “As long as the team is winning, I’m happy.”
Zac Tassone also finished with three goals in the game as he led the offense to pour on eight goals against the Huskies. For Tassone it is his second hat trick of the season, his first coming in the second game of the season against Goldey Beacom. Tassone finished the season with seven goals. West Chester also received goals from Jason Mackel and Bryan Nugent.
Garrett Santora continued to be stellar for the Golden Rams picking up another victory in the net, his fifth since returning from an injury. He came up with solid saves to bail out a defense that was without starting sweeper Josh Harris. Harris missed the game due to an injury he received earlier in the week in a double OT loss to East Stroudsburg.
For the Rams Soccer team, their Cinderella season is far from over. Three weeks ago the mens team looked to be out of playoff contention, needing an incredible finish to make the postseason. However, the Rams showed tremendous heart in their final seven games coming up with five wins, including an upset at Lock Haven and a win in Slippery Rock, the team that the Golden Rams jumped in the standings to gain the fourth and final playoff berth.
“When you get to the playoffs it is zeros on the board and it is a new season,” Walkes said.
Up next for the Rams will be national ranked East Stroudsburg, a team that finished the season with a 14-2 record and are the reigning PSAC champions. Even though the Warriors dominate the PSAC, the Golden Rams match up well against this powerhouse team.
“It is going to be real interesting, hopefully we can go out with the same intensity we had last game,” Ben Gotwald said about the match-up against nationally ranked East Stroudsburg. For Gotwald and other senior captains Josh Harris, Frank DuMas, and Alex Inman, this is the last opportunity in the playoffs
This season the ESU Warriors have defeated the Rams twice. Those two victories were very tightly contested match-ups, with the Warriors sneaking away with both wins. On September 17th the Warriors were able to capitalize on a West Chester turnover to go ahead early and barely hold off the Rams at South Campus Field. In that game, senior goaltender Garrett Santora was still battling his back injury.
Earlier this week the Golden Rams traveled to East Stroudsburg where it took two overtime periods for the Warriors to get the victory. Santora was incredible that game, keeping the Warriors off the board for their first 12 shots, until Jason Shegda ended it. If the Rams could play with that same intensity and have Santora bail them out when needed than it would take just one bounce in the Golden Rams favor for the colossal upset to happen.
“In one game anything can happen, the guys understood that we should have won the last one. It is one game and we are just looking at it like that. Hopefully we can play it like that,” Walkes said about the PSAC semi-final game.
“We just scored eight goals; we just need to carry the momentum into that game. I know we can hang with [ESU] for sure,” Williamson said.
The game will be played Halloween night, in East Stoudsburg. The Rams hopefully can make it a Halloween that will haunt the Warriors and end their season.
Ken Schmidt is a third-year student. He can be reached at KS609536@wcupa.edu.