It wasn’t that long ago that the United States of America lost soccer superstar Abby Wambach to injury, just before the Olympics began in Beijing, China. But despite that injury and a previous dispute between USA goalkeeper Hope Solo and the coaching staff, the team went to the games of the 29th Olympiad, and they did not leave until they had a gold medal. If that is not enough, a local product from Delran, New Jersey, Carli Lloyd scored the gold medal winning goal in the Olympics. Fate.So could fate strike again? This time on a national championship level?
One year ago, West Chester’s women’s soccer team fell three wins shy of their ultimate goal, a national championship. With the loss to Franklin Pierce still fresh in their minds from last November, the team finally can put that memory to rest as the new season gets underway. At the helm is second- year head coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley, who brought in another tremendous class of freshman. She takes the Lady Rams on their quest of a national title beginning with an out of conference game before diving right into the PSAC schedule.
On the field, the team is led by All-American’s Lauren Boyer and Sarah Oswald.
Boyer, a senior defensive standout and one of the 2008 team captains, was the leader of a defense that allowed only 14 goals in 23 games a year ago.
Oswald is entering her second year on the team, but as last year’s fantastic freshman, she has a great deal of pressure to be this year’s super sophomore. She was the offensive wizard that set a single season record for goals in a season for West Chester with 18 and tied the all-time record for points in a year at the University with 38.
Senior defender Emily Palombo and senior goalkeeper Hilary Smart join Boyer as team captains. Last season Palombo started all 22 games in which she appeared and helped Boyer anchor the stingy West Chester defense. Also in 2007, Smart started all 15 games in which she appeared en route to a career high 41 saves and seven shut outs.
Joining Boyer, Oswald, Palombo and Smart are 26 other girls who will look to give West Chester their second national title in less than a year (women’s lacrosse won the national title in May).
West Chester enters the season ranked No. 7 nationally and was picked to finish first in the PSAC East yet again. Other PSAC teams in the top 25 are No. 17 Slippery Rock, who West Chester beat in the second round of the NCAA tournament, as well as new conference member Mercyhurst at No. 21, who also bowed out in last year’s NCAA second round.
The Lady Rams are West Chester’s fall sports dream team. They win often and normally convincingly. If fate is to strike in the women’s soccer world twice in 2008, the ladies will need to overcome their demons of the past few seasons in which they fell just shy of the national title each time. Should they do that, the purple and gold will join the red, white, and blue as women’s soccer champions. If you believe in fate, you just might get your wish.
Mike Heiman is a fourth-year student majoring in elementary education with a minor in literacy. He can be reached at MH606613@wcupa.edu.