Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

The defending PSAC champion East Stroudsburg visited West Chester Monday afternoon in a showdown between two of the best teams in the division. The Golden Rams saw their three game winning streak snapped just two days prior at home against Slippery Rock. Soccer is a game of inches though. ESU proved that adage as The Warriors got a bounce to go their way, while West Chester bounced a ball off the post with minutes left in the game to allow East Stroudsburg to sneak out of West Chester with a 2-1 victory.

“We had our chances to put goals in, and two of their goals I don’t think were legitimate goals,” Junior midfielder Mike Pryor said.

Though ESU showed dominance over West Chester last season, this game showed that West Chester could play on the same level as the top team.

“If we take care of our chances we can compete with Stroudsburg,” Pryor noted.

Stroudsburg’s first goal came off confusion in the midfield. Junior forward Anthony Henry got his signals crossed with first-year fullback Kevin Ballick. Ballick came running past Henry to get into a better spot to receive the pass, but Henry was already sending the ball into the backfield. The ESU Warriors capitalized as Jason Shegda took the turnover and Josh Harris was caught with too many men to cover. Shegda found junior forward Kevin Holmes who went in all alone on West Chester goalie Garrett Santora. Holmes sent the ball over Santora’s head, and just under the cross bar, just nine minutes into the game. Shegda, the reigning PSAC player of the week, now has twelve points on the season.

ESU dominated the ball the entire first half tallying nine shots.

“We really didn’t bring it right from the start like they did,” Pryor said about the Golden Rams weak start to the game.

ESU struck early in the second half as well on a goal credited to sophmore defenseman Danny Drago at the 61 minute mark of the game. Off the cross from ESU’s Dan Evans, Drago knocked goaltender Garrett Santora over. Both players were on the ground, but Drago found the ball first for his third goal of the season

Following the goal, Santoro was pulled out of the game with an injury. The contact with Drago worried Coach Walkes enough to make a change at goal. Justin Johnson checked in and finished the game for the Golden Rams. Santora tallied four saves and two goals against in 61 minutes of play.

The Golden Rams already have been hurt by injuries this season. Senior captain Ben Gotwald missed the game with a hamstring injury. However, Jason Mackel stepped into Gotwald’s spot to play a very physical game in the backfield.

This showdown between the two playoff teams was played very tough, the teams combined for 29 fouls and four yellow cards in the game. Harris and David Miller each received a warning from the officiating that struggled to control the game late. The officials missed numerous calls as well including senior captain Alex Inman being tackled on the sideline late in the game.

“You got to go out there and bust it on every ball. Every ball is important,” Harris said.

Harris was able to tally his third goal of the season late in the game off of a corner kick with just twelve minutes left in the game. Forward Matt Aunet was the first to get his head on the ball, deflecting it towards the back post where Harris slammed the ball home. He scored a goal and also saved a goal minutes later when a shot got past Johnson, but Harris was backing him up to stop the ball and keep the Golden Rams just a goal down.

With just ten minutes left in the game, Pryor put a cross into the box on a direct kick and first-year forward Zac Tassone headed the ball at the end and off the crossbar inches short of the back of the net. This was West Chester’s last chance to tie the game, and East Stroudsburg was able to sneak away with the 2-1 win and remain atop the PSAC standings.

The Golden Rams visited Bloomsburg (2-7-1) on Saturday afternoon but continued to struggle as they lost their third straight game, this time 3-2 at the hands of the Huskies. Mike Pryor tallied in the first half but Bloomsburg battled back, tying the score before the half as Chris Tomarelli banked the ball off the crossbar.

West Chester appeared to take control over the struggling Huskies as senior captain Alex Inman tallied his first goal of the season and the Golden Rams looked as though they could break their losing streak.

However, the Huskies had different ideas as they scored goals just three minutes apart from Ambrose Brown and the game winner by Dan Beshore. Both goals were assisted by junior defenseman Josh McClennan. West Chester does not face Bloomsburg until the final game of the season.

The two losses this week dropped West Chester (5-5) to fifth place overall in PSAC, one point behind California (Pa.). West Chester travels to Millersville on Wednesday for their second game of the season. In their first contest, the Golden Rams topped Millersville 4-1. The Golden Rams need to accumulate points in the division if they want a seventh straight PSAC playoffs appearance.

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

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