West Chester men’s soccer followed up a two-week span where they went 3-2 in their best week of the season. Over the first span, WCU was blowing out their nonconference opponents, but continued to struggle with Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) teams, against whom they remained winless at 0-5.That was not the case last week, as the Golden Rams won their first PSAC game and tied another against one of the top teams in the nation.
However, West Chester lost their first game of the week, a 1-0 nonconference game against visiting Chestnut Hill on Tuesday. The loss marked the seventh shutout of the season for the Golden Rams, as well as the eighth one-goal loss.
Peter Weiss started in goal for the Rams and was perfect in the first half, recording seven saves. The offense could not get going, though, as the team only mustered two total shots. The first half ended in a scoreless draw.
Despite the great effort, it ended up being too little for Weiss and fellow seniors, who were playing their final game in a West Chester uniform.
Kevin Marron played the first 25 minutes of the second half in goal, and faced zero shots before being replaced by Garrett Bleiler.
Neither team got on the board until the 78th minute when Chestnut Hill’s Darryl Richardson scored from inside the penalty area by beating Bleiler to the near post. Carl Essenthier was credited with an assist on the play.
West Chester failed to put a lot of pressure on Chestnut Hill’s defense throughout. They only managed four shots the entire game and only one of those had to be saved by Griffins’ goalie Mike Goldstein. They also only took three corner kicks. Chestnut Hill had 12 shots, seven on goal and took eight corner kicks.
The win improved Chestnut Hill to 9-6. Overall, WCU sat at 5-9 following the loss and evened their record to 5-5 at home.
In their next contest, West Chester played No. 4 Mercyhurst (13-0-3, 3-0-3 PSAC) to a 1-1 tie in double overtime in a game in Erie, Pa.
Although a tie, the game was a massive success for WCU. Mercyhurst has no losses on the season, and is ranked by many publications as the No. 1 team in the entire Atlantic region while they attempt to win the PSAC regular-season title. Being No. 4 nationally is impressive as well.
Neil Gallagher started the scoring early for the Rams when he headed in a cross from senior Ricky Williamson to beat Mercyhurst goalkeeper Diego Gustin in the 17th minute to take the team to the lead.
They held on for a long time, but in the 59th minute Christopher Hampel scored for Mercyhurst to even the game. Alex Manea assisted with a crossing ball that Hampel was able to put in the upper-left corner of the net.
The rest of the game had no score, but plenty of action. Mercyhurst took a remarkable 28 shots to only six from West Chester, but Weiss’s steady play kept the Rams in the game. Weiss played all 110 minutes and recorded 11 saves.
Gustin made one save for the home team. Mercyhurst took 11 corner kicks to zero for WCU.
West Chester finally broke their losing streak in the PSAC with the tie, bringing them to 0-6-1 in conference and 5-9-1 overall.
The very next day, the team took it a step further by breaking their PSAC hex with a 3-2 win over No. 12 Gannon in a game played at Edinboro (11-6-0, 4-4-0 in PSAC).
Conor Malarney got the Rams off to the fast start they have lacked all season in conference play, as he scored off a feed from Ricky Williamson and beat Gannon goalkeeper Michael Kickel to the right side after only 3:49 had elapsed.
Gannon had to switch to Jason Barbarino in goal early in the game after Kickel received a red card in the 25th minute.
Williamson converted the ensuing penalty kick to make it 2-0.
The defense was superb through the first half. WCU goalkeeper Weiss only had to make two saves out of 15 total shots for Gannon. West Chester really made their shots count by putting two of their seven into the back of the net.
In the second half, the story was a little different with added dramatic flair. Gannon’s Afrim Latifi scored twice on the Rams by the 84th minute mark despite the Golden Knights being down a man.
Only three minutes after the equalizer, though, Malarney continued his outstanding freshman campaign by scoring his team-leading seventh goal of the season off an assist from Jake Maxwell to take the lead for good.
For the second game in a row Weiss made double-digit saves while facing a lot of shots and preserving WCU’s first points of conference play.
West Chester will look to continue their run of success in PSAC play next Saturday in their final game of the season at Millersville.
Travis Pearson is a fourth-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at TP651537@wcupa.edu.