The Golden Ram field hockey team drove their winning streak to five games before falling in their last two contests, one of those games to the always-powerful North Carolina Tar Heels.Two weeks ago, West Chester took on the Monmouth Hawks at their home field on south campus. It was a battle of the undefeated, as both teams came into the game with a 3-0 record. In a true fight to the end, West Chester edged out Monmouth 3-2 in a thrilling overtime victory.
Leah Angstadt was the first Golden Ram to strike, as she put the Lady Rams on the board in the 13th minute of play. Brynn Adams and Beth Wong made it happen, as their play off of a penalty stroke set up the score.
Monmouth struck back ten minutes later though, tying the game up at one.
First year Melissa LeNoir put West Chester back on top 2-1 with a goal of her own. LeNoir continues to lead the team in her first collegiate season. She ended the game against Monmouth with a team leading six goals and 15 points. This is all coming off of last year, where she led the state of Delaware with 31 goals while playing for Red Lion Christian Academy.
Monmouth would later score again to tie the game up at two. That is how regulation ended, sending the game into overtime.
West Chester did not sit in that tie situation long though, as Brynn Adams took a pass from LeNoir in the first minute of OT to go up 3-2. Goalkeeper Joelle Zarefoss would do the rest, holding off the Hawk’s scoring efforts and solidifying the Golden Ram victory.
The win gave West Chester a 4-0 record, their best season start in 22 years. In the coach’s poll, West Chester received 12 votes. They were not ranked, but even receiving votes in the poll is a huge recognition. They would take that momentum into the Vonnie Gros Classic the next weekend, where they faced some tough competition.
First up in the classic was Appalachian State. West Chester’s first half against the visiting Mountaineers was enough for the Rams, as they ended the game with a 4-1 victory, their fifth straight to start off the year.
LeNoir was the Lady Ram that got West Chester on the board, as she knocked in a goal off of a Leah Angstadt assist. Kelsi Ward was the next one to score, shooting the ball past the goalkeeper off of a penalty stroke.
Alyssa Gallen scored West Chester’s third goal of the first half to put WCU up 3-0 before Appalachian State finally mustered a goal to make it 3-1 at the half. That was all Zarefoss would let up though, as she blanked the Mountaineers in the second half.
Gallen would add another goal before the end of the game to tally West Chester’s fourth goal.
This was a great momentum builder for the Lady Rams. There was no better way that they could have gone into playing North Carolina than to be undefeated on the season. Even with this confidence though, the Tar Heels proved to be too strong, as they easily rolled over West Chester 6-0.
West Chester was only able to manage two shots in the loss. Zarefoss made 11 saves in the game.
“We played as if we were intimidated – which we were,” student coach Catherine Baskin said. “They’re the No. 2 team in the nation and they’re stacked with national team members.”
The loss was West Chester’s first on the season, but it was not a conference game. The last seven games of the season are the ones that really matter the most, as those seven games are all A-10 conference games. Playing North Carolina is always a good experience for the team, especially for the incoming first year players.
The next game for West Chester was this past Friday as Towson came to town. West Chester won two games this season in overtime, but this overtime game did not prove the same outcome, as the Golden Rams fell in the first overtime period 2-1.
Kelsi Ward scored the lone goal for West Chester on the day. Towson’s game-winning goal occurred in the first minute of overtime; similar to the fashion West Chester won there last overtime game against Monmouth.
The goal came off of a tipped shot into the goal past Zarefoss. A Towson player was able to tip the ball just before it went into the goal, redirecting it past Zarefoss and winning the game for the Mountaineers.
West Chester is facing Penn State University away on Sunday. They will be trying to overcome two losses in a row against one of the top teams in the nation.
In order to do that, West Chester needs to go back to playing as a team. “We’ve been trying to play as individuals,” Baskin said. “If we use each other we will be fine. We’re just glad the losses are during non-conference games so far.”
Ryan Frisco is a third-year student majoring in Communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.