The West Chester Lady Rams’ soccer suffers first loss of the season, fights back with two straight wins.

For the first time this season, the Lady Rams tallied one in the loss column. The game was home against No.16 at the time, East Stroudsburg. It was a thriller from the very start. It was a very even game all the way through. And for the first 44 minutes and 57 seconds the game was held scoreless. But right before the halftime horn sounded, West Chester was making one last effort at taking the lead heading into halftime. Scarlett Walsh, of West Chester, crossed the ball with five seconds remaining from the right side of the box, and connected with sophomore Haley Mangiaruga, who sent it to the back of the net, as the scoreboard had three seconds remaining.

This was a huge momentum boost for the Lady Rams heading into halftime, knowing they have the lead on a very good team, and they were confident in the strong defense that the score could hold. But the game had just begun at that point. For nearly 35 minutes of the second half, West Chester’s defense did exactly what it has been doing all season, not allowing anything past goalkeeper Alex Srolis. However, there are just some plays you can’t do anything about, and that is what happened in the 78th minute when sophomore Hannah Gombos of East Stroudsburg delivered a beautiful cross into the box, and Courtney Keller got her head on it, and put in past Srolis to tie the game at one with just under 12 minutes left to play.

That goal took the wind out of the sails for West Chester, as they tried to score the go-ahead goal, but were unable to do so, and the game was heading into overtime. This was the first overtime game of the season for the Lady Rams. In a PSAC regular season matchup, there are two overtime periods, each ten minutes, and it is sudden death. Meaning the first one to score is the team that wins the game. It was a tale of two overtime periods, as West Chester dominated the first overtime, as they had three shots, and two corner kicks but could just not put it in the back of the net. As the horn sounded, and the game headed to the second overtime, it was a different story.

East Stroudsburg dominated the second overtime with great possession, not allowing West Chester a chance on offense. And in the 107th minute, off of a failed clear by a West Chester player, Brielyn Hackett was able to take advantage and fired it past Srolis in the upper right hand part of the goal, and secured the victory for the Warriors. It was a devastating loss for the Lady Rams, as they played their heart out, in a very long tough match, and came away with their first loss of the season.

West Chester would have some time to think about the loss to the Warriors, as they did not play again for eight days. They were able to rest up, and get better over that week, as they came out with determination against Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Sara Bennis, starting defender for the Lady Rams said it best, “our team did a really good job of staying positive, learning from it, and moving onto the next game rather than dwelling on it and that definitley helped us against IUP.”

It certainly did help them, as it took less than 12 minutes for West Chester to get on the board and show themselves, their coaches, and the opponent: they were going to bounce back from their first loss of the season. The goal came from sophomore Maddy Barretti. Barretti took a cross from teammate Erica Hansen, and turned her head around in time to put one past the goalkeeper for her first goal of the season. West Chester wasn’t done yet, twelve minutes later Marissa Valenti took a loose ball in the 33rd minute and fired past the diving goalkeeper to give the Lady Rams a 2-0 heading into halftime.

The West Chester defense held strong, only allowing one goal in the second half to IUP’s best player Brittney Kuhns, who capitalized for her seventh goal of the season. But West Chester would hold on, and take the game 2-1.

Up next the Lady Rams took on Clarion University at home, and it was sheer domination by West Chester. Although the scoreboard might not have showed it, West Chester dominated in all statistical categories of the game. They outshot Clarion 23 to one, with ten on goal. They also had nine corner kicks to Clarion’s one. All West Chester was missing was a tally in the goal column. It finally came in the 64th minute when senior Dana Hunt took a pass from Nikki Lynch and beat the Clarion goalkeeper for her third goal of the season. Again West Chester’s defense held strong, and the Lady Rams would take the game 1-0. It could have been three or four to zero, if it wasn’t for the heroic effort by Laura Saussol, the Clarion goalkeeper who had nine saves on the day, and many of them being spectacular diving saves. For West Chester, Srolis only had to make one save, very early on in the game. For Srolis and the West Chester defense ths was the seventh shutout of the season, which really goes to show how strong of a defensive core, and goalkeeper the Rams have. Once the offense can get on the board, they can be confident the defense will hold for them.

So after dropping their first game of the season against East Stroudsburg, they bounced back with two straight wins, and they now boast a 10-1 record, and they are sitting at No.12 in the country according to the Division II rankings. They will try to continue their momentum when they travel to Shippensburg on Tuesday, for a 4 p.m. start time.

Ryan Calpin is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at RC784188@wcupa.edu

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