Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Coming off a 2-0 win against Bloomsburg University, the West Chester University women’s field hockey team entered another week seeking to add two more wins. Conference games against Kutztown University and Mansfield University stood between the Rams and accomplishing that goal. The strong defensive play exampled in WCU’s shut out win against Bloomsburg would be needed once again if the Golden Rams wanted to seal two wins.
A cold October day set the stage at Vonnie Gros field, where the Rams looked to improve their record yet again against a struggling Kutztown team. The first eight minutes held no strong attacks, with no real opportunities for either team. The Rams began to raise the pressure with a few penalty corners and shots on goal, but did not find the back of the cage right away. Around ten minutes in, WCU would strike first on senior Stef Pirri’s fifth goal of the season. Pirri would not stop there, adding an assist just two minutes later on a goal from senior Megan Callanan, resulting in a 2-0 lead for the Rams.
West Chester continued to attack, with penalty corners and great chances coming one after another. With nine minutes left in the first half, Pirri would find the back of the cage once again for her second goal of the contest, giving WCU a 3-0 lead. The Rams continued to control the first half completely; not allowing a single shot on goal through the first half. With four minutes left, senior Lauren McGinley ripped a shot past Kutztown goalie Kayla Denlinger, giving McGinley her fifth goal of the season and West Chester a 4-0 lead into halftime.
West Chester dominated the first half of play, and nothing changed through the second half. WCU did not find the net again in the game, but the dominant defense of the Rams made that a non-issue. Through all 70 minutes of play, Kutztown only attempted one shot, compared to West Chester’s twenty one. West Chester proved their skill level, especially on the defensive side, posting another shutout in their 4-0 win.
The Rams’ next task came Saturday afternoon against Mansfield University. West Chester looked to improve their record to 11-4 against Mansfield, who has struggled all season.
West Chester controlled the game from the first whistle to the last, dominating Mansfield in every aspect of the game. Although they did not find the net early on, WCU was clearly in control. With seven minutes left in the first half, freshman standout Marnie Kusakavitch controlled the ball on a break away and ripped a shot past Mansfield goalie Kristie Rollman, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead. Another goal came just before halftime, on a deflection goal for senior Megan Callanan. The score read 2-0 as the halftime whistle blew.
WCU came out firing on all cylinders as the second half began. Callanan immediately found the back of the net just a minute and a half in, on a tap-in goal assisted by Nancy Stehman. West Chester’s defense played to full potential, continuing their dominance shown in the past few games. Nine minutes in, sophomore Alayna Brown found herself in the right place at the right time on a tap in goal, assisted once again by Stehman. West Chester’s final goal came from McGinley on a long cross from Stehman. The Rams’ three goals in the second half gave WCU a 5-0 lead, and eventually a 5-0 win.
West Chester’s defense seems to have really found their stride, posting shutouts in their last three games. This type of defensive effort is exactly what could fuel the Rams through another strong run and shot at a third consecutive PSAC title. Goalie Audree Bonavita has been dominant, leading the excellent defense the Rams have been displaying.
The Rams enter their final week of regular season play holding an 11-4 record with a 6-2 record in conference play. Up next for WCU is Mercyhurst College and Slippery Rock University, both PSAC games. If the Rams can accomplish wins in both, the momentum will be set for another successful postseason run. Through the leadership of their seniors and the excellence of their defense, the Rams truly believe the sky is the limit.
AJ Arcaini is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA

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