Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

The West Chester men’s soccer team turned around what had been a dismal two weeks by going on the road and earning a solid 2-0 win at Lock Haven on Saturday.

After dropping their last three games, the Golden Rams were in big need of a good result. Thanks to Neil Gallagher and Roberto Silva, they got what they needed and earned three important points in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoff race.

West Chester started the game in the best way possible when Gallagher, a senior midfielder and team co-captain, scored off a header after a corner kick by senior defender Dan Venuto in the fifth minute. Gallagher got his head to Venuto’s cross, and the ball deflected off the Lock Haven goalkeeper and into the net for Gallagher’s second goal of the year, which put the Rams up 1-0.

After the goal, each team struggled to find its way, and quality offense was hard to come by for much of the first half. But with less than two minutes to go before halftime, freshman midfielder Alex Badulak played a beautiful pass to Silva, who rocketed the ball into the net to double West Chester’s lead. It was Silva’s first goal of the season.

The second half was a defensive battle, as both teams shut down the other’s attack and allowed little in the way of scoring chances. That benefited West Chester, though, as the Rams were already up by two goals. The 2-0 scoreline would remain that way until the final whistle, and West Chester was able to leave Lock Haven with all three points.

Despite WCU’s two goals, the defensive nature of the match was reflected in the final stats. West Chester only allowed Lock Haven to get off eight shots, and only four of them were on target. The Rams were only able to produce seven shots, with four being on target, although two of the Rams’ shots ended up going into the net. The difference in the match may have been WCU goalkeeper Garrett Bleiler, who saved all four of the shots he faced, while his LHU counterpart could only save two of four.

Before winning on Saturday, West Chester had slumped through a tough two-week period that saw them lose three straight home games.

On Oct. 4, the Rams lost 2-0 to visiting Philadelphia University. The game was scoreless entering the second half, but a pair of goals in a six-minute span gave Philadelphia a lead that WCU couldn’t overcome.

Three days later, West Chester dropped a tough game to Nyack College, losing 3-2 in double overtime. After Kevin McCann put the Rams up in the 24th minute, Nyack managed to equalize less than two minutes later. The game remained at 1-1 until the 70th minute when freshman Badulak netted his first-ever goal at WCU, but Nyack tied it again five minutes later through Marco Likos. Neither team scored in the first overtime period, but just 18 seconds into double overtime Likos scored a golden goal to give Nyack a dramatic 3-2 win.

And on Tuesday, WCU dropped a conference game against Slippery Rock, falling 2-0 on a pair of first-half goals. The Rams failed to convert a number of early chances, and The Rock made them pay when Chris Davis scored in the 22nd minute. Less than  a minute later, Slippery Rock doubled their lead through Stephen Donnelly. The Rams had multiple chances to get back into the match, and in the 73rd minute Conor Malarney appeared to have scored a bending goal directly off a corner kick. The linesman ruled that the ball had not crossed the line completely, though, and the game remained at 2-0 and eventually ended that way.

Four more games remain for the Golden Rams, with three of them being in conference. Two of those three PSAC games will take place this coming week and are crucial for the team’s playoff hopes. On Tuesday, WCU travels to face East Stroudsburg, who are winless through six conference games. The Rams return home for a match against Bloomsburg on Saturday. If West Chester is serious about making the playoffs this year, there is no reason the team cannot earn at least four points from the two games.

Joey Samuel is a fourth-year student majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at JS719745@wcupa.edu.

Author profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *