This fall at West Chester University gave fans hopes and dreams, but West Chester failed to bring a National Championship to the campus once again. Four athletic teams displayed poise, confidence and excitement on the field, but were tripped up in their road to glory with another West Chester national championship.
Many students, fans and athletes thought that now was the time for West Chester’s football program to pounce on the PSAC, capture a playoff berth and reach their full potential.
Led by Bill Zwaan Jr. and Mike Washington, West Chester had an offense that proved it was scary good. The offense scored at least 30 points in six of its first eight games with Bill Zwaan Jr. throwing for 20 touchdowns through the first eight games. West Chester’s two sub-30 performances came in a loss to Delaware and a 21-0 shutout of Kutztown.
However, the ninth game of the season threw West Chester backwards at the hands of the California (Pa.) Vulcans at home. Zwaan threw three interceptions and West Chester running game only netted 21 yards to California’s 190.
West Chester clinched the PSAC East the following week, but in their first playoff game gave up a lead in the final 11 minutes to eventually loss to IUP 45-35, thus eliminating them from the Division II playoffs.
West Chester’s soccer teams also looked to be playoff contenders early and late.
West Chester’s men’s soccer team opened their PSAC season 4-1 with decisive lead wins, but East Stroudsburg University put the first of three one-goal roadblocks in the way of West Chester’s playoff hopes. West Chester then went into a freefall with four straight losses. West Chester then climbed from the bottom of the PSAC standings to the top with six victories in eight PSAC contests. One of the two losses was a 1-0, overtime loss to East Stroudsburg.
After clinching the final playoff spot, West Chester opponent was once again East Stroudsburg. However, West Chester failed to get going offensively as the ESU Warriors blanked the Rams, 1-0.
The men’s team was not the only WCU soccer squad to have its eyes on the ultimate prize. If fact the women’s soccer team was actually the favorite out of the Northeast region.
Coming into 2007, the Lady Ram’s were ranked for most of the regular season which concluded with a 17-2-2 record, and a PSAC title.
West Chester’s only two regular-season losses came at the hands of Slippery Rock and Shippensburg, but were both avenged later in the season. West Chester defeated Slippery Rock once in the regular season, once for the PSAC title, and to eliminate The Rock in the NCAA’s.
However, West Chester stumbled in the hunt for the NCAA Championship for the second time in three years against Franklin Pierce.
In 2005, Franklin Pierce eliminated West Chester in the quarterfinals. West Chester avenged that loss in 2006 eliminating Franklin Pierce, but Franklin Pierce took the rubber match downing West Chester 1-0 this time around.
The fourth team to make a run at a title was the women’s volleyball team. The Lady Rams won a school record 28 games and qualified for the PSAC tournament.
PSAC Volleyball Athlete of Year Kristen Decker, Rookie of the year Michelle Powers, and the other Lady Rams made a run at a tough Clarion squad but lost in the opening round of the PSAC tournament, 3-1.
The 28-10 record of West Chester was impressive, but the NCAA did not grant the Lady Rams a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The season was highlighted by a school-record 15 straight wins to open the year, but also included two three-game losing streaks and a pair of losses to Shippensburg and Kutztown, the PSAC East’s No. 1 and 2 seeds.
West Chester dominated the bottom dwellers by an overall set score of 18-2, but were outscored by KU and SU, 5-12.
Although West Chester sports failed to accomplish their ultimate goals, a future is being built and a foundation being laid.
Although the football team is graduating Zwaan Jr., Osagie Osunde, Lateef Ferguson, and Mike Mignogno, they retain a bevy of talent with Mike Washington on offense and strong defensive players.
The men’s soccer team’s goal was to honor their senior players through hard play and going out in a bang of glory. They did that coming from behind to make the PSAC tournament. The soccer team will be returning two freshmen, Ricky Williamson and Zac Tasson, who will be more than capable of stepping on the field and scoring many goals for years to come.
The women’s soccer team graduates only two seniors, which will bring back virtually an intact team that will look for stability from its third coach in three years.
The volleyball team also graduates only two players. One happens to be PSAC player of the year Kristen Decker, but Michelle Powers looks more than capable of starting for this team next year.
Overall, West Chester four playoff teams finished the season 84-34-3, but four of those losses will have to be corrected in order to bring this school its first National Championship since 2002.
Frank Stern is a third year student majoring in literature with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at FS628548@wcupa.edu