Just when the West Chester University men’s soccer team had finally tasted victory, they came crashing back down with yet another loss. West Chester fell to visiting Shepherd University of West Virginia, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon in a non-conference game. Shepherd’s Kevin Doyle scored the only goal in the 61st minute after the Golden Rams failed to clear the ball out of the penalty area and Shepherd took advantage. Garrett Bleiler once again started in goal, perhaps signaling that the starting goalkeeper’s job is now his, since he has started the team’s last three games since replacing former starter Kevin Marron. Bleiler suffered his first loss of the season.
West Chester (2-5-2, 0-3-2 PSAC) appeared to have the majority of the quality chances on goal, which has become something of a pattern in their losses this year. The Golden Rams outshot Shepherd by an 8-5 margin and earned eight corner kicks to Shepherd’s two.
As the game came to a close, West Chester was pushing hard for a late equalizer. Cameron Scott, Brett Snyder, and Roberto Lopez all had huge chances to tie the game up, but none could get the ball into the net. With just one minute remaining, a Shepherd defender went down with an injury and the game was forced to stop. Campus police and a local ambulance were brought onto the field to get the player to a hospital, as his injury was clearly serious.
Unfortunately for West Chester, that took away momentum from a Golden Ram team that looked likely to grab a late goal. After the incident was taken care of, the final minute was played out, but West Chester was unable to tie the game up.
“I thought we outplayed them,” said West Chester winger Kevin McCann after the game. “We just got unlucky with the goal they scored. We’ve got to start scoring goals. We’re playing really well, we just can’t finish.” McCann was disappointed with the situation at the end of the game, but also pointed out that it wasn’t the first time it had happened to West Chester.
Several other games have been ended before time was up due to inclement weather this season. “It’s definitely happened in the season prior to this. It makes us lose all of our momentum,” McCann said. “It’s really hard to play after that. It keeps happening; we’ve got to get used to it somehow.”
Earlier in the week, West Chester appeared to have gotten its season back on track with a 1-0 upset win over highly touted New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) in another non-conference match. NYIT, which boasts a number of international players and is well-respected nationally in men’s soccer, played well, but the Golden Rams rose to the task and earned a quality win.
Cameron Scott scored the winner in the 57th minute off an exquisite pass from midfielder Christian Benner. It was Scott’s first career goal for West Chester.
“It was a great win for us,” said captain Brett Snyder after the game. “We had a couple ups and downs. We were giving it to a lot of teams and outshooting many opponents, we just couldn’t get that one goal. But this could really be the result we were looking for.”
“[They were] absolutely the best team we’ve played so far,” Snyder said. “Very talented, very composed on the ball, filled with great players and they’re a great team.”
“It was a big win for us because we haven’t won a PSAC game yet,” midfielder John Frederick said after Wednesday’s win. “NYIT is an extremely good team with a bunch of foreigners. How much heart we put into the game, how much determination, that’s what got us through the game.”
“How we held on to each other, we had each other through the game, not just individually; one of the most important things was confidence, we weren’t scared,” Frederick said. “That’s how Cameron Scott got the goal, and Christian Benner’s pass was complete confidence because there was almost no way you could slide that ball through; that’s how we won the game, with confidence.”
After an up-and-down week that saw West Chester win and lose by the same score of 1-0, they will now play two more non-conference games. They travel to Washington, D.C., to face the University of the District of Columbia on Tuesday afternoon, before returning home to host Condordia College on Thursday. Concordia, ironically enough, hail from Westchester County, N.Y.
Joey Samuel is a third-year student majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at JS719745@wcupa.edu.