The Lady Rams started their season off strong with back-to-back wins against No. 10 Bentley and UMass- Lowell in their first games back on the field.

West Chester’s season opener proved that the PSAC Eastern Division Poll was on point, as the consensus deemed the Golden Rams likely to finish second in the PSAC East.

West Chester is off to fresh start in more ways than one this season. The team is competing in Division II rather than Division I for the first time since the program’s foundation, joining the rest of the University’s athletics.

The Rams also gained a new head coach, Amy Cohen, who came from Susquehanna University in March of this year. Cohen succeeded Kathy Krannebitter, who coached at West Chester since 1985 and is the all-time leader in coaching victories with 226.

“I don’t think anybody knows quite what to expect,” Cohen said of the upcoming season. “But, we will be celebrating the fact that we are Division II. We play the DII national champs right off the bat the first weekend. So, we will find out pretty quickly where we stand.”

 Seventeen players from last year returned for this season including senior Nicole Fiorilla, who led the team in scoring last season, and both goalkeepers, Kristin Arnold and Gabby Panasiewcz.

The win over Bentley on Friday afternoon was an excellent indication of the team’s standings in comparison with their competition. The victory was fueled in part by returning seniors Fiorilla, Alisha Moran and Brynn Adams.

The Falcons put up the first tally of the game with an unassisted goal from Stephanie Sideris in the sixth minute. With less than a minute remaining in the half, Adams tied up the score sending the teams to halftime with an even slate.

“Teamwork was the difference in the second half,”  Cohen said.

The Rams came together in the second half using aggression and tough defense to halt the Falcons in their tracks.

Kelsi Lykens put the Rams up by 2-1 in the 57th minute. Three minutes later, Fiorilla took an assist from Moran to lengthen their lead.

Kayla Gluchowski then scored off a deflection following another penalty corner in the 67th minute to close out the scoring, solidifying West Chester’s 4-1 victory.

“We possessed the ball in the second half,” Cohen said. “We spread the field and controlled the game and got back to playing our style of hockey.”

 Arnold registered two saves in the cage for the win. Bentley’s Julia Powell made nine saves while recording the loss.

West Chester held a 20-3 advantage in shots and a 9-3 advantage in corners in the game.

In their second game of the season, the Golden Rams demanded attention as they took down the defending national champions and preseason favorite, UMass-Lowell, with a score of 4-3 in overtime.

Michele Schrift was a standout star in the Saturday afternoon game, knocking in two tallies that ultimately won the game.

Within the first 18 minutes of play, the River Hawks established the lead with back-to-back goals. These served as the only goals scored in the first half.

Seventeen seconds into the second half, Schrift took control of a loose ball and sent it to the back of the net from eight yards out.

Five minutes later, Annie Hansbury regained the River Hawks two goal lead with a score of 3-1.

With ten minutes remaining, Angstadt took assists from Stef Pirri and Lykens to close the scoring gap. Fiorilla scored her second goal of the weekend to tie the game up 3-3 before the end of the half.

One minute and 38 seconds into overtime, Schrift out-maneuvered River Hawks’ goalkeeper Melanie Hopkins and earned West Chester the OT win.

Although Angstadt was just switched this season from a midfielder to a forward, she has already exceled in the field. Last year, she finished third on the team in scoring after a leg injury cut her season short. Cohen relocated her due to her speed and agility.

The victory served as the Golden Rams’ second win of the season, and halted UMass-Lowell’s 24-game winning streak that stood since November of 2009.  

“Today, we learned that if you keep competing and play with some heart, then good things will happen,” Cohen said.

The Lady Rams will host their first home game against No. 3 Bloomsburg on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Vonnie Gros Field at 4 p.m.

The game will mark the debut of brand new bleachers that will give spectators a better view of the action and a more spacious seating arrangement.

Brynn Dougherty is a fourth-year student majoring in economics and finance with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at BD670913@wcupa.edu.

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