The defending National Champion Golden Rams Field Hockey team kicked off their 2012 campaign Sept. 1 against Merrimack, here in West Chester down on Vonnie Goss field, defeating them in a convincing 5-1 win.
Excited to defend their new national title, the Rams jumped out to a quick two-goal lead against the Warriors before the 20-minute mark. Senior co-captain Kayla Gluchowski started the scoring barrage with her first goal of the season, picking up where she left off a year ago as the team’s leading scorer. Moments later, Megan Callanan tacked on the second goal of the game, stretching the lead to 2-0 before half time.
The girls wasted no time putting the game out of reach as senior co-captain Michele Schrift and midfielder Kelsi Lykens each scored within the first five minutes of the second half, doubling the lead before Merrimack could even break a sweat. West Chester added one more goal to increase their lead to 5-0, moments before the Warriors’ Candice Waldie scored a goal of her own to prevent the shutout. The game ended with a score of 5-1, granting West Chester a convincing first win of the new season.
The Rams outshot the Warriors by an astounding 33-8 shots, a tribute to West Chester’s aggressive and relentless efforts throughout the game.
“We opened up with a great win against Merrimack. The game was a solid all-around effort, especially having four different goal scorers,” Head Coach Amy Cohen said.
Merrimack goalie Keri Bergquist recorded 21 saves, while West Chester goaltender Kristin Arnold was credited with three.
Following their first victory, Gluchowski shed some light on the teams’ expectations and goals for the season. She made it very clear that despite winning a national title last season, the girls are as focused, determined, and hungry as ever and welcome the target on their backs.
“We now know what D-II [field hockey] is like and instead of fighting tooth-and-nail throughout the entire season, not knowing whether we would get a bid into post season, we expect and want to stay on top the whole ride there,” Gluchowski said.
Last year, the Golden Rams’ national tournament fate was left up to the NCAA selection committee after losing in the PSAC quarterfinals.
Despite a pre-season No. 1 rank, and being national champions, no motivation has been lost over the summer.
“That’s simple. The people who were here last year to experience it don’t need anything extra [motivation] to keep pushing as hard as they can. They all want that single moment back more than anything,” Gluchowski said.
“For the new players, we are constantly challenging them at practice, reminding them what it takes to get to where we want to go, and help keep them focused by being as supportive as we can. We tell them that it may not always be easy, but nothing that is worth it in life ever is. You have to work hard every second of every practice and game because if you don’t, someone else is.”
Knowing that each team will be bring their best effort forth every time they step on the field against the Golden Rams, Gluchowski vowed, “It is really important to us that we keep it a positive and confident atmosphere and as long as that is accomplished we feel very good going into games.”
From the outside looking in, it seems that the girls have the right mindset heading into this season as defending national champs, and it is going to take a lot to shake this team. From the coaches, to the captains, to the rest of the squad, these girls are determined to be in the same position as last November.
“We had a target on us last season and that target hasn’t necessarily changed as we feel most teams are going to give us their best game again this year,” Cohen said. “It is an honor for us to defend our national championship and we look forward to all of the challenges along the way.”
Timothy Mulqueen is a third-year student majoring in marketing. He can be reached at TM734386@wcupa.edu.