After falling in a tough loss to St. Joes last Sunday afternoon, WCU’s field hockey team holds their destiny in their own hands going into their game against Massachusetts this Sunday.The game was a downer for the Lady Ram squad, who had just come off of a great victory the Friday before over the long time rival Temple Owls.
“Going into the game we had such an emotional win over Temple that you always worry about coming out the next day a little flat,” coach Kathy Krannebitter said, “and that’s what we did.”
The St. Joe’s team deafted the West Chester Golden Rams in front of their excited Senior Day crowd. Before the game, seniors Beth Wong, Joelle Zarefoss, Amanda Wynkoop, and Cat Baskin were honored. The close-knit group of seniors have led West Chester well this season, making it their best run at the postseason during their four year tenure here.
St. Joe’s used their explosive first half to easily steal an Atlantic-10 conference game away from West Chester. Early on in the first half, the Red Hawks scored the first goal of the game to take an early lead. From there it was smooth sailing, as they scored two more goals in the first half to go up 3-0.
Alyssa Gallen was the first and only Lady Ram to score, as she knocked one into the goal minutes before the half, to go into the half down by two goals.
“Once we settled down we took some good opportunities away from them,” Krannebitter said.
Down by two in the second half, West Chester came storming out, ready to take down the St. Joe’s Red Hawks. Unfortunately though, after numerous opportunities, they were unable to capitalize on anything with a score.
“We played with a greater sense of urgency [in the second half] but couldn’t get anything in,” Krannebitter said.
One of the things that the coach pointed out as big issues for the team were there penalty corners. The team was given many opportunities to convert on their corner shots, but was unable to score anything. Being able to score deep in the opponent’s territory like that is a huge component in the game.
With the loss, West Chester fell to 3-2 for their division record. That moved them down to third place, as St. Joe’s passed them for second. Richmond is first in the division with a 5-0 record. The top four teams will make the postseason tournament.
West Chester has one last conference game left on Sunday at Massachusetts. That game is huge, as there are three teams battling for the final two spots in the playoffs. West Chester is one of them. The other two are Temple and Massachusetts.
There are three different ways that West Chester can get into the playoffs. The easiest way is if Temple loses. Temple plays Richmond on Sunday, who is undefeated in the conference. If Richmond beats Temple, then West Chester is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
The second way would be for West Chester to beat Umass. A victory over Massachusetts will guarantee them third place in the division, plus a postseason trip. That will not be a walk in the park though, as Massachusetts has a fantastic team this year. They have spent much of the season ranked in the Top 20 for the nation, and even knocked off No. 6 Iowa early in the season.
Massachusetts hit their peak early on in the season though, and have struggled as of late. They dropped three straight games in the Atlantic-10 already this year.
The third scenario gets more complicated. If Temple somehow manages to beat Richmond, and Massachusetts upsets West Chester, then that will create a three-way tie for third place in the division.
The first tiebreaker in that instance is records against each other, which is still a tie because they are all three 1-1. Next it will go to overall record, which is again a three-way tie at 8-10. So after that, it will go to goals scored. If West Chester manages at least one goal in the game Sunday, even if they lose, they should still make the playoffs.
The team is determined to win though, and have spent the week preparing for that.
“This is what we have been working for this whole season, and it’s finally here,” first year Michelle Schrift said. “We’re definitely going to need to step it up this week at practice.”
“We just have to play a hard game and not let them control anything that we do,” one of the seniors, Beth Wong, said. “It’s exciting to make it this far, but it’s definitely bittersweet because I know I’m going to miss it.”
This journey will definitely be bittersweet for the four seniors who have become intricate parts of this team. The last check on their list of things to do before their college field hockey career is over is to make a trip to the postseason. This year is their best and last shot.
Whatever the outcome, coach Krannebitter is happy with her team’s performance.
“I was really hopeful for a good conference season, and it’s pretty much played out how I expected it to be,” Krannebitter said.
If the team does make the playoffs, it is likely that they will face rival Richmond again if they want to take the title. Richmond has yet to lose to a conference rival this season, but coach is confident the Rams can beat them
“We matched up very nicely with Richmond as far as style,” Krannebitter said. “We played them very well.”
Sunday at noon will be the moment that decides whether West Chester is in or out for the 2009 Atlantic-10 conference playoffs.
Ryan Frisco is a third-year student majoring in Communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.