With only two games left in the season, the West Chester University women’s soccer team is well on its way to finishing out their season with the best record in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and going into the PSAC tournament with the momentum they need to succeed.West Chester has already clinched a spot in the PSAC playoffs with their record of 14-1-1 overall. This is the fifth year in a row that they have been invited to the playoffs. They lead the conference with 30 points overall. The Lady Rams have also extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games.
The clincher came in a win over Kutztown last Tuesday. Sarah Oswald scored her seventh goal of the season while Jen Hutchinson added her fifth in a 2-0 win. Oswald’s goal came from a direct kick 25 yards out that initially hit the post, but took a favorable bounce and trickled across the goal line. Eight minutes later, she had a hand in Hutchinson’s goal as she sent a corner kick to the far post that was then placed in the net on a header from Hutchinson.
Freshman goalkeeper Lyndsie Bernardini has not let in a goal since Sept. 16th and has set a new West Chester record for shutouts in a season with 13. The previous record was ten. With the latest shutout, Bernardini has tied the all-time PSAC record for shutouts in a season. She has also gone 953 consecutive minutes without letting in a goal.
Bernardini, who graduated from A.P Schalick High School in New Jersey, was not discovered as a goalkeeper until her senior year. She had previously played on the defensive line as a stopper or sweeper.
“My coach found out that I was really a keeper my senior year and I was voted to the all star team after only playing one year,” Bernardini said.
Bernardini has also joined Sarah Oswald and Tara Malkiewicz as being named the Eastern Division athlete of the week.
The team has high hopes for what the postseason will bring, and based on their record, there is no reason for them to think otherwise.
“We have a very talented team and a very solid defense,” Bernardini said. “We’re hoping to host the PSAC tournament and hopefully become National D-II champs.”
West Chester has continued to rely on the defense to be the backbone of the team. After losing most of the defensive squad to the graduating class of 2009, the team had to rebuild and redefine their defense. Along with Bernardini, the defense has only let two goals slip by all season.
Although the defense has been strong, they rely on offensive efforts as well to secure their victories. They have outscored their opponents this season 41 to 2.
West Chester’s most recent victory came at the hands of Holy Family in a night game last Friday evening inside Farrell Stadium. The Golden Rams defeated their opponents with goals from Jessica Bennett and Jen Hutchinson. Bennett scored the game winning goal in the 42nd minute. Her goal was assisted by senior Heather Manorek. Jen Hutchinson then secured the lead with a goal in the 59th minute. Manorek was honored along with Sam Paolino in a senior recognition ceremony that took place prior to the game.
The Golden Rams will be in Philadelphia this Wednesday to take on Chestnut Hill College. Chestnut Hill has a 10-6-1 record. They will then wrap up their regular season when they play a game on Saturday against East Stroudsburg. They beat the Warriors earlier in the season in a 2-0 decision. The Rams will then have two days off to prepare for the PSAC tournament.
Last year, West Chester fell to Mercyhurst in the PSAC semifinals.
Amy Festa is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.