With the first snowfall accumulating on Saturday, it is time to face the realization that winter is definitely here.That means that sadly, another fall sports season here at West Chester University has come to an end. There were ups and there were downs this year, with some teams continuing past success, while others struggled through a rebuilding year. Overall though, the Golden Ram sports program proved to the other PSAC opponents how much of a force they really are from year to year.
West Chester’s own pride and joy, their purple and gold Golden Ram football team, came into the season picked to face California (Pa.) in the PSAC championship game in a repeat of last year’s championship. West Chester fell short last year when they lost 47-36.
The Golden Rams got off to a great start this season, shutting out Lock Haven 43-0. They then fell in consecutive games though, first to the Pat Devlin led Delaware Blue Hens, and then to Cal for the third time in the last two years.
Two wins over Millersville and Kutztown got the boys back into contention, but a shocking, heartbreaking loss to the East Stroudsburg Warriors in front of a homecoming crowd put a damper on the whole season. After six games the gridiron Rams were sitting with a .500 record and a long shot at the playoffs.
After one more loss to Shippensburg, West Chester outscored their final three opponents by a total score of 134-17, but it was not enough to boost them into contention for the NCAA II regional tournament. Sadly, the football team’s season came to an abrupt end with a record of 7-4.
After the season ended, it was announced that 10 Golden Ram football players were named to the All-PSAC East team, eight of them earning first-team honors.
While the men’s top sports team struggled this season, the leading women’s team, the Lady Ram soccer team, started right where they left off in last year’s stellar season.
Going into the season, there were questions about whether or not the women’s soccer team could continue their success with the lost of Hilary Smart, their goalie from the past four seasons. Freshman Lindsay Bernardini stepped in this year to replace her, and answered all of those questions.
After losing the second game of the season to Kutztown 1-0, West Chester went on a tear, going on a 19-game unbeaten streak of 18 wins and one tie. Among those 18 games were 16 shutouts – not bad for a rookie goalie. The defense did a good job of keeping the ball out of West Chester’s zone, and Bernardini stopped anything that did squeeze by. All in all, West Chester had gone on a 1,238 minute scoreless streak, easily a record for the team, along with the 17 shutouts.
The Lady Rams easily repeated as PSAC champions, rolling Bloomsburg, Indiana (Pa), and Kutztown en route, and earned another bid in the NCAA II regional tournament. Expecting to go far this year, West Chester’s season came to an end much earlier then expected, as they fell to Indiana (Pa.) in the first round, 1-0. The shutout was only the third time all year that West Chester had failed to score a goal in the season.
The soccer team ended the season with an amazing 19-2-1 record, and placed seven players on the PSAC All-League team and All-Regional team as well.
The men’s soccer team was a much different story, as they had a whole new team of young players with not enough experience to lead the way. With a new herd of freshmen being brought in, and the loss of last year’s stars, the Golden Ram men’s soccer team managed only four wins on the season, one in PSAC play.
It was definitely a rebuilding year for the Ram squad. They brought in a core group of freshmen who now have a year under their belt playing together. The next three years should get better each year, as the guys gain more experience playing together, and perfect the skills they carry with them.
The West Chester University field hockey team is a Division I team, facing the likes of the nation’s greatest every season. This past season was one of their best in a while, as many of the off-season additions played a great role in this year’s team.
The Lady Rams got off to one of their best starts in team history, winning their first five games of the season. The success was short lived though, as they immediately dropped the next six contests. The games that really mattered were next though, as Atlantic-10 conference games were starting.
West Chester won three out of their first four division games, giving them a 3-1 record in the division, good enough for second place. All they had to do was win one of the last two to make it to playoffs. Unfortunately, they fell to both St. Joe’s and Massachusetts, and missed the playoffs by a three way tiebreaker as the odd man out.
They finished 8-10, which continues steady progress they have made over the past five years. Next year should be even better, as a lot of this year’s young talent will continue to improve and shape into leaders on the field. The field hockey team placed two players on the All-League team, one on the All-Region, and one on the senior All-Star team.
The women’s volleyball team had another great year, as they eclipsed the 20-win mark for the third year in a row. They started the year off strong, but hit a flat spot through the middle part of the season. With only a couple of weeks left to play, West Chester was sitting on the edge of a playoff berth with the pressure on.
West Chester answered the call, winning six games in a row and 11 of their last 14 games to clinch a PSAC playoff berth. Unfortunately for the Lady Rams, their first playoff match up was against the Lock Haven Bald Eagles, who have been a dominating force in the PSAC over the past few years, especially over the Golden Rams. West Chester ended their season in three straight sets. They will look to improve on that record next year, as the talent on the team continues to grow with each passing season.
Last but not least on the fall list of sports is the women’s rugby team. Winning the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union championship the past three seasons, West Chester was favored once again to repeat. This season had some added complications to the recipe though. Delaware and Shippensburg were both added to the EPRU, adding some more competition to the mix.
In the regular season, West Chester fell to both of those teams in close games, 6-5 and 14-7. In their game against Princeton, the team they have faced in the EPRU title game for the past five years, the Lady Rams trounced the Tigers 53-0. In the first round of playoffs, West Chester faced Shippensburg and beat them in dramatic fashion by scoring on the final play of the game to advance to the EPRU championship match up with Delaware.
In the first game these two faced off, West Chester did not let up a try. Delaware’s six points came off of two converted penalty kicks. In a heartbreaking loss, West Chester, although not letting up a try once again, fell in the finals to Delaware, 6-3. The Lady Rams’ season will continue in the spring, where they will face one of the top teams in the nation in an attempt to earn a spot in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen tournament at the end of the year.
All in all, it was a good season once again for West Chester sports. They had three teams advance to end of season playoffs, notched yet another PSAC championship to hang in Hollinger Field House, earned a trip to an NCAA tournament, and placed an uncanny number of athletes to honored teams. The winter and spring sports have a lot to live up to after the fall campaign here at West Chester. It was truly a fall to remember.
Ryan Frisco is a third-year student majoring in Communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.