The West Chester University women’s soccer team surrendered their first loss at home this season when they lost to PSAC rival Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the second round of the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Tournament.The heartbreaking loss came only one week after the team beat Kutztown to win back the PSAC title that they also won in 2007. West Chester defeated IUP en route to their PSAC Championship by a score of 4-1.
The game was West Chester’s first of the NCAA Tournament after they were awarded a first round bye. They also received home field advantage throughout the playoffs based on their season record of 16-1-1.
According to the scoreboard, both teams were matching their opponents play in a game that remained scoreless for almost 88 minutes. However, West Chester seemed to dominate statistically by outshooting IUP 15-9 and also had the corner kick advantage 8-1.
West Chester dominated the play of the first half and was in control of the game until the final minutes of play. With only 2:19 left to play in the game, IUP’s Viann Heder put a direct kick in the top corner of the goal, past goalie Lyndsie Bernardini.
IUP went on to the third round where they lost to California University of PA.
The loss was especially painful for seniors Heather Manorek and Sam Paolino who played in their last game at West Chester University. Paolino has been very versatile on the field at her midfield position helping the team both offensively and defensively. She started all 21 games she played in for the Golden Rams and finished the season with two goals. Manorek was more of an offensive aid for the team as she was used at both the forward and midfield positions. She played in 19 games for West Chester and tallied five goals for her team.
With only two seniors graduating, West Chester can look to improve with the team they have been working with all year. However, they will have two vital positions to fill with their offseason losses. But they have built a deep roster with the number of freshmen they took on this past preseason.
West Chester’s team spent the regular season unbeaten and not scored on at home. Freshman goalkeeper Lyndsie Bernardini, who was named rookie of the year for the PSAC Eastern Division, finished the season ranked second in the nation for both goals against average and also save percentage.
Although the season had a premature ending, West Chester had many accomplishments that extended through their season. The Lady Rams had seven girls named to the All-PSAC East Team and five girls named first team All-Region.
Sarah Oswald, Bernardini, and Cindi Nickels made both first teams. Jessica Bennett and Tara Malkiewicz made the first team All-League and the second team All-Region. Defender Jenna Arnold and midfielders Jen Hutchinson and Sam Paolina were also honored as members of all-league or all-region teams.
The players were not the only driving force behind the success of the team this year. Third year coach, Betty Ann Kempf Townsley, was also named the PSAC East’s coach of the year.
Although the level of play on game day is essential to a successful team, West Chester is also an example of how to be successful off the team as well. Junior captain Jessica Bennett was named to the 2009 ESPN The Magazine Women’s Soccer Academic All-America College Division first team. She is currently a student in the Elementary Education Major with a 4.00 grade-point average.
West Chester completed their season in admirable fashion although they did not extend their play as late as they would have hoped. Being the first seed in the Atlantic Region, the loss to IUP was an upset.
West Chester finished their season with an outstanding record of 19-2-1. They posted 17 shutouts on the season and had a nation’s best 0.21 goals against average.
Amy Festa is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.