A dramatic winner by Kevin McCann in double overtime propelled the West Chester men’s soccer team to a 3-2 win over Millersville on Saturday.
With the win, which was the team’s fifth in a row, West Chester clinched second place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs, which will start this week. A second-place finish means that the Golden Rams earn a first-round bye into the semifinals.
The two teams played out the entire first half without any goals scored. Millersville’s Ben Johnston and WCU’s Conor Malarney came close early on, but their shots were not on target. A few minutes later, West Chester’s John Frederick saw his shot saved by Millersville goalkeeper Brad Benzing.
After halftime, the game quickly turned into a back-and-forth, exciting contest. In the 49th minute, Malarney found an open Christian Benner on a breakaway, and Benner beat the goalie with a shot to the left corner to put WCU up 1-0 with his third goal of the season.
Millersville would not go down easily, though. Just seven minutes later, Jaime Vazquez put a cross into the box that the Rams could not deal with, and Andrew Dukes took advantage, scoring past WCU goalkeeper Garrett Bleiler to tie the game.
The 1-1 scoreline did not last long, however. In fact, West Chester was back on top 30 seconds later when Malarney scored with an impressive chip shot over the goalkeeper’s head to restore WCU’s one-goal lead.
The lead lasted for more than 20 minutes, a period that saw Dukes shooting wide and Vazquez hitting the post. Millersville continued to put on pressure, but the Rams were able to keep them out, at least until the 82nd minute.
After coming up just short for almost half an hour, Millersville’s Anthony Fratini scored his first goal of the season when Ryan Rohrer’s free kick was crossed to him. Fratini’s goal tied the game at two goals apiece.
The match then entered overtime, and despite having the momentum, Millersville’s chances of winning the game took a sudden downturn after only 30 seconds when Jordan Brubaker was sent off with a straight red card.
West Chester failed to take advantage of the extra man for the whole first overtime, but in the second overtime that all changed. With two minutes remaining before the match would end as a tie, WCU midfielder Kevin McCann scored a game-winner after Jake Maxwell had found him with a pinpoint pass.
It was McCann’s sixth goal of the season, and certainly his most important goal since coming to West Chester. It capped off a week in which McCann was named PSAC men’s soccer athlete of the week for his strong performances during this winning streak.
With the win, West Chester earned the chance to rest during the first round of the PSAC tournament, which will take place this weekend at Mercyhurst in Erie, Pa. The Golden Rams will face the winner of the first-round matchup between Gannon and Slipper