It is becoming common lately to have West Chester sports teams win national championships. In the spring it was baseball, and field hockey each of the last two falls.
Now it’s the women’s hockey teams’ turn to be in the spotlight.
Two weeks after winning the DVCHC championship, West Chester traveled to Virginia to fight for a national title.
What a fight it was.
The Rams stormed through the round robin portion of the tournament, defeating Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota by scores of 6-0 in each game. They did lose one game to Wisconsin by a score of 3-1, but they were still able to advance to the semi-final game against Alaska on Saturday.
Becky Dobson, who led the Rams with 38 goals during the regular season provided the same type of offensive prowess in the post season. She scored five of the six goals against Minnesota Duluth, and four of the six against Wisconsin. The other goal scorers were Kirsten Baron (2) and Amanda Vito.
The real heroics came in the semi-final round against Alaska. West Chester went down 0-3 in the first, but was able to fight and claw back, eventually defeating Alaska 4-3.
“We never gave up or stopped believing in each other,” Dobson said.
Vito got West Chester on the board in the second period with a power play goal, and then Dobson once again stole the show. She scored twice, including a shorthanded goal to tie the game, and then put West Chester ahead with a third period goal.
Despite a late power play that left Alaska with a two-man advantage for two minutes because they pulled the goalie in favor of an extra skater, West Chester held on. Thanks to an airtight defense and superb play from Aly Golia in net, the rams completed the comeback and earned a date with Penn State for the championship game on Sunday afternoon.
Again, West Chester faced an early deficit. Penn State took an early two-goal lead, and outshot the Rams 13-7 in the first period.
However, West Chester’s resiliency and determination, which was the driving force behind their win over Alaska, fueled them again.
Dobson, who played arguably the best tournament of her career, struck for three straight goals between the end of the first and three minutes into the second, giving the rams the lead that they would not give back.
The goals were Dobson’s 13th,14th, and 15th in the tournament.
Later in the period, the Rams added some insurance. Kristen Neugebauer and Danielle Speroff each scored, giving West Chester a 5-2 lead.
Golia and the defense did the rest.
After securing the lead, the Rams went into shutdown mode, blanking Penn State in the third en route to their first ever national title, which did not come as easy as their DVCHC title.
“The skill level [from other teams] was much higher,” Dobson said. “Everyone is there with the goal to win Nationals. [To win] felt indescribable and amazing.”
Now it is set in stone. West Chester is officially the best team in the country, thanks to a gritty effort from everyone on the team.
In addition to the national championship win, several Rams players were also awarded for their play in the tournament. Vito, Golia and Dobson all received first team all tournament honors, and Dobson also took home tournament MVP. Her 15 goals in the tournament gave her an incredible 63 on the season between the regular season and playoffs.
For the Rams, this is their first national title since the team’s inception in 2007. They have two DVCHC titles in addition to the one from this year, coming in 2008 and 2012.
Now that the Rams got justice for their national tournament snub last year and have experienced being at the very top, they can finally relax and enjoy every minute of the hard and long journey it took to bring this title home.
Kenny Ayres is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.