Sat. May 25th, 2024

The West Chester Women’s Field Hockey team, ranked No. 2 in the country, entered another tough week of play, holding a 3-1 record. With games against Millersville University and East Stroudsburg University, WCU looked to improve to a 5-1 record.
The week began with a home game versus Millersville University on Tuesday afternoon. WCU entered the contest ranked No. 2 in the PSAC and Millersville just behind ranking at No. 3.
After a few strong opportunities for both teams, West Chester struck first on a tap in goal from senior Megan Callanan. A cross from senior Lauren McGinley gave Callanan an opportunity to put WCU out to a 1-0 lead early. Callanan capitalized with her fifth goal of the season, giving the Rams their 1-0 lead.
West Chester controlled most of the first half until a late goal from Millersville junior Rachel Dickson. A penalty corner resulted in a slap shot off of Dickson’s stick, resulting in a 1-1 tie. The score would stay through the first period of play and lead into an exciting second half.
As second half play ensued, Millersville would strike first and not look back. Three minutes in, Dickson found the back of the cage again with another goal coming off of another penalty corner, giving Millersville a 2-1 lead. West Chester continued to battle with some strong defensive play through the half, but MU junior Alicia Youtz struck with a shot to the inside far post, resulting in a Millersville 3-1 lead.
WCU kept on fighting with corner after corner, but the Rams could not seem to find the back of the net. As time wound down, Millersville’s 3-1 stood as the final whistle blew.
The Golden Ram’s next contest of the week came on Saturday against East Stroudsburg University. With the tough loss against Millersville still in their heads, WCU entered Saturday with a strong motivation to pull out a win, and it sure showed in their effort against the Warriors.
The Rams struck early, with a deflection goal coming from sophomore Alayna Brown just three minutes into the game. Callanan smacked a shot toward the net and Brown’s stick deflected the ball into the back of the cage. West Chester’s 1-0 lead would grow quickly when just three minutes later junior Kelsey Cheek would find the back of the cage. A scramble in front of the net gave Cheek an opportunity, which she took advantage of, resulting in a now 2-0 lead for the Rams.
ESU battled back adding a goal 12 minutes in from freshman Emily Howell, but after that West Chester would not look back. The Rams controlled tempo through the rest of the half, adding another goal from Callanan 16 minutes in. Strong defensive play from WCU kept a 3-1 lead entering halftime.
The Rams took control after halftime, dominating the second half. Senior Kelsi Lykens nailed a slap shot just 35 seconds into the second half, which would be the first of five goals for the Rams in the half. Stellar defensive play from WCU gave the offensive many opportunities to capitalize.
Sophomore Alexis Versak added the next goal, three minutes into the second half improving West Chester’s lead to 5-1. The Rams did not let up for a second and continued to battle to add to their lead.
The next goal came from senior Lauren McGinley 16 minutes in, resulting in a 6-1 lead for WCU. West Chester would continue to pressure ESU both offensively and defensively, controlling tempo and possession throughout the game. Brown found her way to another goal two minutes after McGinley, giving WCU a 7-1 lead and Brown her second goal of the game. Freshman Marnie Kusakavitch added the Rams final goal with three minutes left, solidifying an 8-1 lead for West Chester. A few last minute shots for East Stroudsburg were blocked away by freshman goalkeeper Audree Bonavita as West Chester prevailed to an 8-1 win. Bonavita played a solid game in net with 10 saves for the Rams.
The defensive effort of the Rams had a huge impact in Saturday’s win, along with the strong play of Lykens, who took part in five of eight goals for the Rams with one goal and four assists. West Chester now begins preparation for a week with games against Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Seton Hall University on Friday and Saturday. Posting a 4-2 record right now, the Golden Rams hope to stay hot and add two more wins to their season.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania is currently posting a 1-5 record to start off their season; however, do not let the record fool you, as they have been in very close games against good teams. West Chester beat them earlier in the season 3-2. IUP lost to Shippensburg, the number one team in the country, 3-4. Seton Hill is 3-3 but again their record is decieving. They have lost and won extremely close games and will definatley be a tough matchup for West Chester. West Chester will look to get to 6-2 if they can win those next two games. Right now West Chester is number two in both the PSAC standings and the national rankings for division two field hockey.
Consider the team’s two losses outliers in an otherwise successful season thus far. The Lady Rams have all the tools to put it together and go deep into the playoffs for the third season in a row, and trying to capture their third national title in as many years.
AJ Arcaini is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA

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