The West Chester University women’s soccer team was able to capture a PSAC title, capture the top seed in the Atlantic Region, and become Atlantic Region champions before their 2010 season ended. Their extraordinary season came to a sudden end when they were dismissed from the post-season by overall No. 1 seed, Saint Rose.The Golden Rams lost in the same disappointing fashion that ended so many of their opponents playoff hopes, penalty kicks. In their five playoff games, West Chester has been taken to penalty kicks four times.
West Chester got the game exactly where they wanted it in the first five minutes when Devon Swaim opened the scoring for the game. She placed the ball in the far side of the net from 20 yards out.
Saint Rose didn’t get the equalizer until three minutes before halftime. Amanda Deck took a shot from inside the box that found its way past Lyndsie Bernardini. Deck was the Northeast 10 player of the year.
Saint Rose heavily outshot West Chester 7-1 in the second half, but the score remained the same through 90 minutes of regulation play.
The overtime proved to be just as unsatisfying in determining a winner, and West Chester found themselves in another shoot out.
Saint Rose grabbed the early advantage when they converted on their first two attempts. Saint Rose goalkeeper Deanna Esposito gave her team a comfortable cushion when she saved both of West Chester’s first two attempts. Saint Rose made their third straight attempt before Golden Rams’ freshman Paige Maloney stepped up to the dot and converted her shot. Deck stepped up for the possible game winner, but her failed attempt kept West Chester’s hope alive.
That hope was short lived as West Chester’s fourth attempt sailed over the crossbar to give Saint Rose the win and a ticket to their third straight national semifinal game.
Although West Chester was disappointed in their exit from the playoffs, they accomplished multiple team goals that were set for the season. Prior to their game with Saint Rose, West Chester matched up against division rival California to determine the Atlantic Region champions.
Cal started the scoring on the day in the 13th minute when Sara DiBenedetto collected a cross from a teammate and put the ball right under the crossbar. The score remained 1-0 until halftime. Head coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley got her players in check for the second half and they came out firing at Cal.
Devon Swaim sent a ball across the Vulcan net to an open Sarah Oswald, who headed in her 18th goal of the year. The game remained tied through regulation and West Chester was forced to rely on the strength of their defense and goalkeeping to keep them in the game.
West Chester was set to begin yet another shootout. The round of five shots was not enough to decide the game, and the two teams had to go into extra shooters. Cal’s first shooter, Tonya Fabian hit her shot off of the post, giving West Chester’s next shooter the chance to win the game for her team.
Maloney, who had not played a minute all day, was called on as a shooter. She stepped up and took her shot that sailed past a diving goaltender and sealed the West Chester victory.
West Chester will be losing significant strength to their team in the offseason. The Golden Rams are losing six seniors, each of whom have been consistent contributors to the Rams success.
Oswald, whose goal against Cal made her tied for second place on the all-time point leader board at West Chester, will be missed as the strongest goal contributor that West Chester has. Her 18 goals this season, including nine game winning goals, kept West Chester on top of the PSAC for the duration of the season.
Jessica Bennett has also been a strong defensive force for West Chester since she became a starter her freshman year. She played in all 23 games this season, scoring six goals for the Rams. Cindi Nickles has also contributed to the strength of the defense throughout the year.
Oswald, Bennett and Nickles appeared and started in all 23 games for the Rams.
Jenna Arnold, Devon Swaim and Lara Bodenstab have been consistent for the Rams in the forward and midfield positions. Swaim registered two game-winning goals for the Golden Rams.
West Chester will return underclassmen starters that will continue to lead the Rams in future seasons. Bernardini, in her second season in net, has continued to be one of the strongest goalkeepers in the PSAC.
Tara Malkiewicz and Brittany Couper will return to aid the defensive structure that the Rams are constantly relying on.
The Rams will also have returning offensive presence from young underclassmen such as Jen Hutchinson and Jen Gangl.
Kempf Townsley’s recruitment class from last year was able to watch and learn from the leadership of the upperclassmen, which will carry over into following seasons.
West Chester will be back in action next fall as the reigning PSAC Division Champions.
Amy Festa is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.