For the sixth straight game, the West Chester University men’s soccer team failed to record a win. But in many ways, their scoreless draw on Tuesday afternoon against California (Pa.) can be seen as a positive. The draw was just the second positive result earned by West Chester (1-4-2, 0-3-2 PSAC) since a 13-0 thrashing of lowly Lincoln in their season opener. California (6-1-2, 1-1-1 PSAC) came in to what they probably felt would be a fairly easy game, but West Chester held their ground and at least earned something out of the match, which went into double overtime before ending as a tie.
Garrett Bleiler made his first start in goal after recovering from an illness and played very well, making four saves and earning a shutout. It was the first time the team had shut out its opponent since that win over Lincoln. It remains to be seen if Bleiler was given the start because of the struggles of Kevin Marron, or if Marron was only playing the the first few games because of an injury to Bleiler. Either way, Bleiler is certainly one of the positives that head coach Kendall Walkes can take out of the 0-0 draw.
The fact remains, however, that West Chester has still gone six games without a win and has not scored in two straight home games.
Midfielder Jake Maxwell, who co-leads the team in scoring with three goals despite missing time recently with an injury, feels the team is close to a breakthrough.
“I think we have been playing very well this season as a team. The squad is filled with technical, skilled, and hard-working players so we have the tools necessary to win a lot of games,” Maxwell said. “Lately, we have not been capitalizing on our opportunities and that is what has been holding us back.” Maxwell said that the team has been a bit unlucky in some recent games, as the team has been able to create chances but is just missing that final touch. “We are outshooting most of our opponents, we just need a bit more composure when it comes to finishing those chances, myself included,” he said. The young midfielder thinks that the team will be back where they need to be soon, but he also thinks they already deserve to be further up the standings. “I feel as though we have deserved to win most of our games this season. I think we have outworked and outplayed most, if not all, of our opponents thus far.”
While West Chester may have hit a rough stretch as of late, they have plenty of time to steady the ship. They will play a pair of nonconference games at home this week, hosting New York Institute of Technology on Wednesday and Shepherd on Saturday. These games will give the team a chance to regain their confidence and scoring touch before resuming PSAC play later in October.
Joey Samuel is a third-year student majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at JS719745@wcupa.edu.