For the second straight season, the West Chester Golden Ram rugby squad fell runner up in the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union to an intruder.Last season it was Delaware. This year, it was Penn State.
Penn State is always a tough team. Every single season, they compete in the top four of the nation, always a favorite for the NCAA championship.
Since West Chester’s induction into the NCAA Division I, they have never come close to beating Penn State. After their hard fought game against Penn State earlier this season, where they fell 39-8, the team had high hopes that they could hang with them in the championship game.
Penn State would have none of it. In West Chester’s worst point performance of the season, they suffered their worst loss with a 53-6 beating from the Nittany Lions.
It was WCU’s lowest point showing of the year, along with their highest total of points allowed. The previous three games going into that match, they had let up no more than eight points in one game.
Penn State scored within the first five minutes of the game, and just kept on going. West Chester fought hard, but did not manage even a single point in the first half. At the first buzzer, the Lady Rams found themselves down by the score 33-0.
Any hopes of staging a miraculous comeback in the second half were dashed quickly, as Penn State scored two more trys within the first five minutes crushing WCU’s championship dreams.
Penn State used the one thing that gave them an advantage every time they have played West Chester: their speed. Being able to turn around the outside and make a break for the trizone has been the key to their victories time and time again.
Megan Lamm was the lone scorer for the Golden Rams, as she converted two penalty kicks in the second half to score West Chester’s six points. It was a crushing end to the Fall season, as the team takes a break now to prepare for the Spring campaign.
Leading to this match up, West Chester first had to take on a tough Delaware team twice, once in the regular season finale, and then in the first round of the EPRU playoffs.
In the first game to end the season, West Chester needed the victory to solidify the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
Playing like a team who needed a win, Mary Kay Heaton and her three trys helped lead the Golden Rams to a commanding 37-7 win, giving them momentum going into the playoffs.
Anna McGlade was the first Golden Ram to do damage on the day, as she found the trizone less than five minutes into the game. Megan Lamm converted that try to put West Chester up early 7-0.
Later on in the half, Heaton scored the first of her three trys, pushing the ball across the line behind a heavy pushing pack. That score put WCU up 12-0, which was the score at the end of the first half.
Determined to put the game away for good, Heaton came out in the second half and scored two trys in the first seven minutes, putting West Chester up by 22 and leaving them in complete control of the game.
The scoring just did not stop all game for the Golden Rams, as Anna McGlade scored her second try of the game later on in the half to give West Chester a 27-0 lead.
Maddie Kriebel added onto that with a try of her own, making the score 32-0.
Calee Spragis got in on the scoring as well, as she scored her first collegiate try in the final seconds of the game. With under a minute left in the contest, WCU had a lead of 37-0.
Unfortunately, their hopes of a shutout were erased when Delaware intercepted a pass and found the trizone with seconds left on the clock, making the final score 37-7. The win was West Chester’s second best defensive performance of the season, only allowing less points in their game with LaSalle.
That win set up West Chester with the second seed for the end of the season tournament, to take on the No. 3 seed, which happened to be none other than Delaware University.
In this rematch, the Blue Hens were determined to beat the Lady Rams this time, after the beating they had taken just a week before. The wounds were still sore.
The first half went much differently this time, as Delaware fought hard, working their way up and down the field. The West Chester defense stood their ground time and time again, never allowing a score in the first period of play, despite many chances.
After a scoreless first half, West Chester broke open the scoring early on with a long score by first year player Caitlin Carmody, which put the Rams up 5-0.
Cheryl Johnson scored one minute later on a long run, with a conversion by Megan Lamm, to put West Chester up 12-0. Only three minutes later, Mary Kay Heaton added the third and final try of the game to make the score 17-0.
For Heaton, it was her fourth try in two games in the last two weeks, all coming against the Blue Hens.
This time, West Chester held on in their bid for a shutout, as the defense continued to hold strong the rest of the game, and ended for their first shutout of the year, 17-0.
After the loss to Penn State, West Chester’s final Fall season record was 5-3, an especially impressive record, especially after facing Penn State for two of those losses.
Their third loss came at the hands of the Eastern Carolina Pirates, a school of well more than three times the students of WCU.
So for the second straight year, West Chester finishes the Fall season second to an intruder in the EPRU. Last season, it was Delaware winning the crown in their first year in the league. This season, it is Penn State stealing the crown in their rookie season.
Now the team has the winter off, as they prepare for the Spring season, which kicks off with the Mid Atlantic Rugby Football Union tournament, which will decide whether or not West Chester makes it into the NCAA end of the year tournament.
West Chester missed out on that tournament last year for the first time in recent years, and after taking runner up in the EPRU, their road will again be a tough one, as their opening game will be against someone much higher ranked.
Head coach Tony DeRemer and the team have a lot of preparation for the Spring after their impressive Fall campaign.
And readers, I now leave you for the second time now. After graduating from college, getting a real job, and getting married, I still had to come back and cover my favorite West Chester sports team, the WCU Lady Ram rugby girls.
Last Spring, I wrote my ‘final’ article for the Quad. But, much like the infamous Brett Favre, my retirement was short lived. And now, I would like to announce my retirement for real.
No coming back this time, nor even if my three favorite players on the rugby team fly out to my ‘ranch’ in Eastern Pennsylvania. It’s over. It’s time for me to focus solely on the next chapter of my life.
So farewell for good my loyal readers. Continue to root on my pride and joy Lady Ruggers for me. I’ll be sure to come back and visit.
Ryan Frisco is a graduate of West Chester University. He can be reached at Ryanafrisco@gmail.com.