Mon. May 16th, 2022

For the seventh straight time this season, the West Chester women’s soccer team held their opponent scoreless and recorded yet another shutout for their team when they beat East Stroudsburg 3-0. It wasn’t until their eighth game of the season that the offense finally figured out the West Chester defense when Bloomsburg handed the Rams their first loss of the season.This past Wednesday afternoon, West Chester hosted East Stroudsburg on their south campus field. The game was eventually shortened because of lightning, but West Chester was controlling the pace of the game until the final whistle was blown. From the first tap of the game, West Chester had the momentum and got their first shot on goal 25 seconds into the game.

It wasn’t until 10 minutes into the half that East Stroudsburg got their first solid possession past the half field mark. ESU’s first actual shot on goal was answered when the defense cleared the ball to midfield and senior Jess Bennett placed the ball perfectly at Melissa McKeary’s feet. McKeary took the ball into the ESU box and placed the ball past goal keeper Melissa Myers for the first tally of the afternoon. The goal came only 11 minutes and 46 seconds into the half and was the eventual game-winning goal.

Five minutes later, West Chester struck again with a goal by Sarah Oswald. The goal was the result of a perfect sequence. Another ball was sent from the midfield up to McKeary who waited until the perfect time to send the ball over to Oswald who was staring at a wide open net. Oswald put one touch on the ball for her team-leading sixth goal of the year.

The Golden Rams scored their last goal of the half with 58 seconds left. Substitutes Devon Swaim and Kim Shoup came on to give McKeary and Oswald a break at the forward position, which would prove to be a decisive move for the Rams.

Swaim took the ball down the sidelines and sent it across to Shoup, who finished the scoring for the half with the first goal of her college career. West Chester controlled the play of the first half and sent East Stroudsburg into halftime having to figure out a way to break their defense.

ESU never came up with an answer to West Chester’s play and handed the Rams their seventh straight shutout. Lyndsie Bernardini made four saves to capture the shutout. After the win, West Chester’s record improved to 7-0-0 overall and 5-0-0 in the conference. East Stroudsburg drops to 2-4-1 overall and 1-4-0 in the conference.

Earlier in the week, Oswald was named the ECAC Divison II Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week. The designation was based on her contributions the previous week to West Chester’s wins over Kutztown and Mansfield. Her assist in the Kutztown game facilitated the 1-0 win over the rival Golden Bears.

The winning streak has given the Golden Rams confidence going into each match, but they have managed to keep level heads and look at each game as a potential streak breaker.

“Being undefeated and not letting up a goal in seven contests brings a lot of confidence to the team,” Oswald said. “We know that we are capable of keeping goals out of the net and scoring goals at the other end of the field. However, we don’t let that make us complacent. Any team at any time could put the ball in the back of our net so we need to play strong defensively as one unit for the entire 90 minutes.”

However, their confidence was shaken up when they finally conceded a goal and lost their hopes of an undefeated season.

Prior to the match against West Chester on Saturday, the Huskies had yet to lose a match and owned a record of 4-0-1 overall. Their only tie was a 1-1 draw with Chestnut Hill College.

Twelve minutes into the game with Bloomsburg, Kelsey Stoka rolled a ball into the right corner of the West Chester goal off the fingertips of Bernardini. The goal would end Bernardini’s shutout streak at 552 minutes.

Stoka would strike again in the second half when she placed another ball past Bernardini with only sixteen minutes left to play.

The Rams had their opportunities against Bloomsburg, but could not finish any of their 21 shots, 10 of which were on goal. They heavily outshot the Huskies, but the perfect goalkeeping of Frances Nicoletti was too much for West Chester.

With the win, Bloomsburg remains unbeaten in the conference with a 4-0-0 record (5-0-1 overall). West Chester now owns a record of 5-1 in the conference and 7-1 overall.

The loss, although disappointing for the Rams, just gives them new goals to work towards. West Chester still sits atop the PSAC conference with 15 points and is still a major hurdle to their opponent’s game plans.

Coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley keeps a level head on her team and does not allow them to take any game for granted. The Rams have a non-conference game coming up next week, but they will approach it just like they would the most important game of the season.

“Our attitude going into each game is the same for every opponent. It’s to do whatever we need to do to win the game,” Oswald said. “We have a huge target on our back because of how dominant we’ve been not only this year, but in years past. Each team wants to play their best against us because we’re the team to beat.”

Each win that the Rams record brings them one step closer to their goal on the season. After a disappointing exit from the NCAA playoffs last season, West Chester is working towards redeeming that effort.

“Each game gets us to the next level and even closer to where we want to be,” Oswald said. “First is the PSAC finals, then the regional finals, and finally the final four. [Coach] reminds us every day that any team, regardless of their record, is going to be a contest. She doesn’t speak of any rankings, regionally or nationally.”

West Chester does not return home until next weekend when they host Edinboro on Oct. 8. They travel to Holy Family on Sept. 30 for a non-conference matchup.

Amy Festa is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.

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