Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

After suffering an early exit from the PSAC tournament, the West Chester University Women’s field hockey team was set with another difficult task. After a 1-0 loss in overtime to Millersville University in the second round of the PSAC tournament, West Chester was seeded fourth and placed to battle with No. 2 seed and now PSAC champions, Millersville University, yet again. West Chester dropped all three meetings between the two teams this year so the game ahead of them would be no easy task.
After a week of preparation, WCU entered Saturday looking for a new outcome against a surging Marauders team. West Chester came out strong and battling hard, just as they had all season. If the Rams wanted to top MU this time, they would have to outplay them through all 70 minutes. WCU found continuous chances throughout the first half, with six penalty corners and five shots on goal, but they could not find the back of the cage. Opportunity after opportunity came for the Golden Rams, but still they had tons of trouble finishing.
At the 26-minute mark, Millersville junior Sarah Bombgerger found the cage for her first goal of the playoffs, giving MU a 1-0 lead in the first half. WCU continued to battle, as they always do, forcing turnovers and playing tough defense even after allowing MU to take the lead. Halftime approached as the score still read 1-0.
In the second half of play, WCU had a few opportunities, but unfortunately could not seem to get the game going. As the clock slowly dwindled down, attempts at four penalty corners could not aid in a game-tying score. With just 30 seconds left, the Rams had their best attempt at tying the game. Sophomore Alayna Brown hit a penalty corner to the stick of senior Stef Pirri, who ripped a shot at the net. MU goalie Lauren Sotzin blocked the shot away, as the Rams watched their title hopes drift away. The final score stood 1-0, as the Rams were eliminated from the NCAA Division II playoffs, along with a tough end to their season.
Although the outcome was not what anyone had hoped, the Rams posted yet another successful winning season with a final record of 14-6. Also, senior star Kelsi Lykens was named PSAC Field Hockey Athlete of the year along with first team all PSAC honors. Lykens posted an impressive 14 goals and 13 assists on the year, ultimately totaling in 41 points for her on the season. Lykens was not the only WCU player to earn individual honors; senior Megan Callanan and Pirri were awarded honors of first team all PSAC at the respective positions. Callanan finished second in the conference with her 10 league goals (15 on the season). Pirri, co-captain of the Rams, finished the season with a career-high six goals and a leadership position she will certainly never forget. Senior Nancy Stehman was also selected to the third team PSAC roster as a midfielder for a second time; Stehman scored six goals and added 11 assists in another successful season individually.
Although the season has ended, it was certainly a pleasure to watch this exciting Golden Rams team play. With numerous come from behind wins, stone-wall defense, and a group of girls that never gave up, Coach Cohen could not have asked for more from the West Chester University Women’s Field Hockey team. With a lot of senior leadership leaving after this season, the Rams will certainly look to some of their younger players to keep a winning tradition alive. Brown, freshman Audree Bonavita, and Marnie Kusakavitch, along with sophomores Alexa Moran and Alexis Versak all saw a good amount of minutes this year and will look to re-build the team so they come back right where they left off.
The season may be over, but that does not mean the grind stops. A winning tradition is alive for the West Chester women’s field hockey team, and there is no doubt the Rams will be back next year looking to regain their title as National Champions.
AJ Arcaini is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA 788494@wcupa.edu 

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