Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Garrett Santora came up huge in his return to the lineup. The Golden Rams have gone 3-1 in four key games in PSAC play since Garrett’s return to the lineup including an upset victory at Lock Haven University.

The Rams continue to make a final drive for the postseason but still remain two points behind Slippery Rock with just two games remaining in the season. Two giant road victories over Slippery Rock and Lock Haven have put the Rams in striking distance.

Saturday afternoon’s contest at Slippery Rock proved the Rams “never say die” character. The Rock went up quickly on the Rams, leading 2-0 in the second half behind goals from Jeremy Dieghton and Iain Langstone. A win in this game would mean a playoff berth for Slippery Rock and put the Rams practically out of playoff contention.

However, Senior co-captain Frank DeMas would not let his season end so early. DeMas came up with an unassisted goal just seconds after Langstone’s goal. The Rams gained momentum at this point and would not be stopped. It was first-year player Zac Tassone picking up the next tally with an assist from DeMas. Tassone’s scoring has been quiet since his four-point game against Goldey-Beacom back in August.

With the score 2-2, the Rams finally received the lucky bounce that seemed a long time coming. Off a corner kick, the Slippery Rock miscue ended up in an own-goal, which would be the game-winner in this important contest. It was a Slippery Rock lucky bounce off a corner kick in the teams first match that proved to be the game winner in their September contest.

The Rams were in Lock Haven on Thursday in another key PSAC match-up. West Chester once again was forced to play from behind, something they have been used to this year. They trailed 1-0 at the half.

Mike Pryor tied the game early in the second half to give the Rams life and the will to fight once again. Pryor was able to take one touch and push the ball into the back of the net following a cross from senior captain Ben Gotwald.

?The Golden Rams’ game-winning goal was set up by Ricky Williamson beating a Lock Haven defender one-on-one and firing a shot off the far post. Then, it was David Miller on the doorstep to pick up the garbage for his sixth goal of the season and put the Rams in the lead for good.

Miller has provided the Rams with energy off the bench all year and is second on the team in goals. Miller has played in 14 games this season, coming of the bench in nine of those contests.

The Rams also picked up a conference win when they hosted the Shippensburg Red Raiders on Oct. 9 under the lights of Farrell Stadium by a score of 2-0. This game was the first Santora had played in after missing nearly three weeks of the season with a back injury.

The play of the game came on a failed clear by the Rams that ended up on the foot of Shippensburg’s star midfiedler Geoff Bloes. For the Rams, it was the foot that they most dreaded as Bloes leads the PSAC in scoring this season with eight goals and six assists and had hurt the Rams in the past. Bloes ripped a shot that was heading under the crossbar. Lucky for the Rams defense, Santora was there to bail them out, leaping into the air and punching the ball just over the crossbar. He finished the game with five saves and went the distance for the shutout.

“Garrett came up really big several times, it is great to turn around and see a shot like that and see him save it,” said senior co-captain Josh Harris.

Their leading scorer, DeMas, scored both West Chester’s goals. Miller came off the bench again to set up DeMas’s first goal of the game after a scoreless first half. Another of West Chester’s sparks from the bench this season has been David Nugent, who set DeMas for the game-sealing goal with 30 seconds left. Nugent was able to get behind the defense with the Red Raiders pressing for the tying goal. Nugent slid the ball past the goaltender and right on the foot of DeMas who finished the game.

“It was a real big game, being one point behind them it was a must win or else we’re in a lot of trouble,” DeMas said following the game.

The Rams were able to hold onto the lead late, which has been a problem for them this year. The Rams have scored goals in all but one conference game this year but could only muster a 7-6 record. However, they were without a healthy senior goaltender all year.

“The difference between tonight and other games was that teams were able to tie us and Garrett prevented that tonight. He kept that goal locked,” said head coach Kendall Walkes about the return of his goaltender against Shippensburg.

The Rams have only two games remaining in the season in their push for the playoffs. The Rams will need help from Millersville and Lock Haven when they host Slippery Rock while the Rams will have to take care of business against East Stroudsburg and Bloomsburg. The Golden Rams need to win both of their remaining games and have Lock Haven, Millersville or SlipperyRock loss-out their final two games.

Ken Schmidt is a West Chester University student. He can be reached at KS609536@wcupa.edu.

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