The WCU Lady Ram field hockey team moved one step closer to an appearance in this year’s Atlantic-10 postseason, which would be their first in some time.Friday afternoon brought the cold, wet rain to West Chester’s south campus turf fields. In addition to the out of season weather, a tough, hungry Temple University team walked into the stadium ready to renew an old conference rivalry.
Temple came into the game against West Chester with a six game winning streak over the Golden Rams, and was looking for seven in a row to move their A-10 conference record up over .500.
The Owls started the game in expected fashion, jumping out to a 1-0 lead six minutes into the game. Ironically, the goal was scored by a former West Chester University player, Kimmi Hanshue, off of a corner. Temple was off to a good start, but the stubborn Golden Rams were only warming up.
For most of the rest of the first half, Temple and West Chester traded the ball back and forth without allowing much penetration. Late in the half, first year player Melissa LeNoir broke free of the defenders and dribbled her way down into Temple territory, breaking the crease. She dodged the oncoming goalie and netted her 10th goal of the season, leading the talented WCU squad.
LeNoir’s goal tied the game up at one going into halftime, leaving the team on a high note and giving them a boost of confidence and morale coming out for the second half.
The game stayed knotted at one for a good while in the half until it was finally broken at the 53 minute mark. The Lady Rams struck a march down the field, ending with a hookup from Alisha Moran to Alyssa Gallen into the crease.
Gallen dribbled the ball from left to right across the front of the goal and squeezed it by the goal keeper, putting West Chester up by one with less than 20 minutes to go. It was Gallen’s fifth goal of the year.
The goal gave West Chester their first lead of the game, and put them in position to win their third A-10 conference game of the season, behind the stick of one of the nation’s greatest goalies, Joelle Zarefoss.
Temple was not ready to give up yet though, as they fired off a total of 10 shots in the half alone. The final eight minutes was a nerve-wracking time for head coach Kathy Krannebitter as she watched Temple give one final surge to try and win the game.
The Temple Owls spent much of the last eight minutes in West Chester’s crease, surmounting eight corners in that span. West Chester’s defense, behind the leadership of seniors Beth Wong and Zarefoss, were able to hold the hard charging Owls off to clinch their third A-10 conference win of the season and break a six game losing streak against Temple.
“We just played an amazing game versus Temple,” senior student coach Cat Baskin said.
With that win, West Chester moved into second place in the division behind Richmond, and guaranteeing themselves at worst a 3-3 conference record. That win makes a trip to the A-10 conference playoffs all but guaranteed, a pivotal moment for this young West Chester team.
“It’s really exciting because this will be our first year if we make it,” senior Beth Wong said. “It’s a dream senior season after missing out for three years.”
The Sunday before West Chester beat Temple University, they took a road trip to Richmond, Virginia, where they were handed their first conference loss of the season in a hard fought 2-0 defeat to the Spiders.
Going into the game, West Chester and Richmond were knotted up atop the conference standings, both undefeated in the conference. Richmond took over sole possession of first place with the win.
West Chester gave up their first goal of the game 13 minutes in, as the Spiders managed a score past Zarefoss. They would later add another goal of insurance in the second.
West Chester played a good game, but they were stopped by the stringy Spider defense. The Golden Ram squad only allotted one shot on goal throughout the game, that off the stick of first year Michelle Schrift.
All things considered though, it was a good week for the West Chester University field hockey team. They are holding on to a good spot in the conference standings. They are all but guaranteed a spot in post-season playoffs. They are growing together as a unified team, as their first year players gain experience and come into season. Everything is coming together for the WCU field hockey team all at the right time.
“Our conference is up for grabs so we have to keep fighting,” Baskin said. Their final two games against St. Joe’s and the University of Massachusetts will be tough games for the Lady Rams.
The team will host St. Joe’s University on their senior day at 12 p.m. on Sunday afternoon down on their south campus field behind the Health Sciences Center. West Chester’s four seniors, Beth Wong, Amanda Wynkoop, Joelle Zarefoss, and Cat Baskin (student coach) will be honored during the festivities. A win Sunday will officially clinch a playoff spot for the team.
Ryan Frisco is a third-year student majoring in Communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.