The West Chester men’s soccer team returned to the field still searching for their first win of the season on a crisp, sunny day on the South Campus soccer field after an 11 day layoff. They weren’t able to put a W on the board but did tie the East Stroudsburg Warriors 0-0, earning one point in the PSAC East.In their previous game, a 1-0 defeat to Millersville saw only six shots on net from the Golden Ram offense. An offense that’s still developing after departures by graduating seniors. A priority going into the game had to be creating more opportunities on offense while playing sound defense against a very good and powerful East Stroudsburg team, who came into the game with a 4-3-1 record (1-1-1 in the PSAC East).
In the early minutes of the first half, the West Chester offense was active and alive. In the third minute of play, the Golden Rams got the first of their seven shots in the first half but ESU goaltender Larry Pokrywa made the save.
Four minutes later, a long pass to mid-fielder Brett Snyder nearly set up a chance but the ball got away from the team.
In the 14th minute, a free kick by Zach Weaver soared towards the ESU net but Pokrywa made the save.
The Warriors had their share of opportunities as well but strong defense and strong goaltending kept ESU at bay.
In the 18th minute of play, first year goalkeeper Garrett Bleiler, making his first start of the season, made an excellent save after a series of methodical passes by ESU. He would be tested again in the 22nd minute of play when an ESU corner sailed high over the box, was shot back into center where a header eventually sailed over the net and out of play.
As the first half continued, the West Chester attack became more fierce and consistent as the team spent a considerable amount of time on the attack. The first half ended with seven shots for the Golden Rams.
In the second half, the offense continued its feverish pace that was established in the first half. The team had nine shots in the second half. One of the best chances occurred in the 12th minute of the second half when Jabari De Couteau’s shot from center sailed over the net.
The Golden Rams had two corners in the second half but resulted in headers that sailed over the crossbar.
Zach Weaver was able to create some chances in the second half off of free kicks as he kept delivering great balls into the box but Pokrywa had an answer for every ball that found its way to him.
In the 79th minute, forward Bryan Nugent raced up the wing, made a great cross, but two shots by WCU couldn’t find their way into the net.
In the 89th minute, great hustle by forward Ricky Williamson nearly gave the Golden Rams a 1-0 lead but Pokrywa saved his shot.
In the first OT, the Golden Rams had three shots. Mid-fielder Zac Tassone moved into the middle and nearly resulted in the first goal for the Golden Rams but Pokrywa was able to stop it once again. In the second overtime, the Golden Rams appeared to have run out of gas, getting only one shot that went wide of the net.
As for the Golden Ram defense, they continued to be as good as advertised. Chris Ponto was a physical presence in the first half, using his body to force balls away from the ESU offense. Weaver provided a key clear late in the second half as the ESU offense looked to be in control of their offense strategy.
Goalkeeper Garrett Bleiler was very impressive in his first start of the season, using his body in the box, tipping balls out of the box and securing loose balls in the box.
Overall, the offense is continuing to improve. They had three shots from inside the ESU six-yard box. Their crosses were tremendous through the game. Both of these aspects led to tighter chances. The defense is continuing to solidify themselves as one of the premier defenses in the PSAC East.
Their record now stands at 0-3-2 (0-2-2 PSAC East). They face Lincoln on Thursday at Lincoln and then host Univ. District of Columbia on Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. in the first of a three-game home stand that will also see Bloomsburg and California (PA).
Chris Monigle is a fifth-year student majoring in Literature. He can be reached at CM660983@wcupa.edu.