West Chester men’s soccer lost 2-0 to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) foe East Stroudsburg on Wednesday, bringing their losing streak to four games in hot and humid conditions.The loss dropped WCU to 2-4-0 overall and 0-3-0 in conference.
Shastri Spencer struck first for East Stroudsburg (6-1-0, 2-1-0 PSAC) in the 37th minute. After taking the assist from Andrew Cerda, Spencer placed a perfect bending shot from about 22 yards out to beat WCU goalkeeper, Peter Weiss.
In the second half the Rams played with more urgency and forced the East Stroudsburg keeper to make more saves. Kevin MacCann came off the bench and provided great energy and playmaking on the right side as the team accumulated six shots in the half.
It proved too little. ESU scored again in the 52nd minute after the ball ricocheted off a West Chester defender’s head and into the net for an own goal. East Stroudsburg nearly tallied again in the 84th minute when Kevin Lombardo’s shot hit the post.
ESU’s Troy Hernandez stopped all four shots he faced, including a spectacular save in the 86th minute that would have put the Rams back within one goal. Ryan Dicce shot the ball off a nice feed from Conor Malarney, but Hernandez partially blocked the shot, bobbled toward the goal and finally claimed possession with one arm right before the ball touched and crossed the line.
Weiss started in goal for the Rams and made four saves while allowing two goals. He played 78 minutes. Garrett Bleiler stopped one shot in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Jake Maxwell led all Rams with two shots. Josh Labik, Neil Gallagher, MacCann and Dicce each placed a shot on goal to lead WCU’s scoring opportunities.
West Chester finished with nine shots to ESU’s ten.
The Rams started the season with two wins versus Goldey-Beacom and nationally-ranked Wilmington and scored 10 goals in those games. At that time, no one foresaw four straight shutout losses.
During this rough stretch of the season West Chester has been badly outshot and placed very few of the shots they took on net.
Whenever a team struggles in any sport, coaches and players alike must make the necessary adjustments to get back in the win column. Men’s soccer is no different.
“In practice we keep working on our formation and making sure guys know where to play the ball, and where to be when they personally don’t have the ball,” sophomore defender Taylor Eisenhauer said.
Keeping in the correct formations with the ball moving as well as focusing on getting the ball to the outside midfielders should allow for more shots.
“When we do that successfully, it usually results in a win,” Eisenhauer said.
Of course carrying the necessary changes from practice into the game is pivotal to winning.
“We just aren’t always making the right decisions on the field,” Eisenhauer said.
Conference play will ultimately decide the Rams fate, and the team still has six PSAC games to get back on track. Players recognize it will not be easy.
“It’s always tough to start out 0-3 in the conference,” Eisenhauer said.
Despite the uphill battle, players and fans alike share optimism that the team can turn things around. They have only given up five goals in their four losses, so the defense has been solid. The offense proved they could score goals in the opening games.
“There are just a couple things we need to work on, and once that is done, we should start winning again. We have a strong team this year so we should definitely be able to start putting up some W’s,” Eisenhauer said.
They played at Bloomsburg on Saturday in a PSAC conference tilt. The Huskies were 2-3-1 on the season, and 1-1-1 in the conference prior to the game.
Bloomsburg beat West Chester 3-2 on Saturday. The loss dropped WCU to 2-5 overall, and 0-4 in the PSAC and was the fifth straight loss for the Rams.
Bryce Shaffer scored twice for Bloomsburg (3-3-1, 2-1-1 PSAC), including the game-winner with only three minutes remaining.
WCU’s Brett Snyder scored his first career goal only 11 minutes into the game to give the team its first lead and goal in 382 minutes.
Bloomsburg scored the next two goals, by Tom Natter in the 37th minute, and then Shaffer scored his first of the day only two minutes later to give the Huskies the 2-1 lead at the half.
The Rams’ Malarney, the team’s leading scorer, scored in the 77th minute to even the score at 2-2, which set up the dramatic win for Bloomsburg.
Shaffer took the pass from Francis Miller and put the shot into the left-side corner of the net, securing the victory and placing the team on the heels of the conference leaders.
Peter Weiss played the entire game for WCU and made five saves. Bloomsburg’s Ramon Lobo also stopped five shots to best his counterpart and collect the win.
West Chester had 12 shots to Bloomsburg’s 16. Despite the shot disparity, WCU seems poised for a breakout with the offense finally getting on-track.
West Chester takes on NYIT (1-4-1) in a nonconference game Wednesday, Sept. 29.
Travis Pearson is a fourth-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at TP651537@wcupa.edu.