The West Chester University men’s soccer team took their talents into the PSAC post-season tournament last week, ending their run in the semifinals against Mercyhurst University.
West Chester entered the post-season tournament fourth seed and took on Slippery Rock, seeded fifth, during the Quarterfinal round on Tuesday, home at Rockwell field. Slippery Rock (11-6-0, 7-4-0 PSAC) closed their regular season the Saturday before with a 3-0 shutout over West Chester and returned to the scene of the season finale Tuesday to face an ironic reverse.
On a miserable, rain-soaked Saturday afternoon where temperatures barely crept into the 40s, the Golden Rams were able to muster very little offense against The Rock. Tuesday, on a beautiful fall afternoon with abundant sunshine and temperatures challenging the 70-degree mark, the Golden Rams’ offense came alive with three goals all in the second half, proving the power and potential of the 2014 squad. Slippery Rock played the matchup without their top scorer Stephen Donnelly, which may have also been an advantage for West Chester’s back line.
Sophomore Brian Schaefer broke the scoreless tie in the 65th minute for the Golden Rams when he headed in a corner kick from Brett Glasco. A little over 13 minutes later, Alex Lean took a shot in off a Rock defender in front to double West Chester’s lead to 2-0. Brett Beaumont slammed home a cross from Glasco moments later into an open net on a 2-on-1 break with five minutes remaining in the tilt, closing the quarterfinal game with a force, 3-0.
Freshman goalkeeper Matt Palmer made four saves in goal for his first postseason win with the Purple & Gold. Palmer made a profound mark during the first 45 minutes, keeping Slippery Rock off the scoreboard, despite The Rock holding a 7-3 edge in shots and an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks.
West Chester clearly came out of halftime hungry for a goal, after having one disallowed in the first half. The Golden Rams limited the Rock to just three shots in the final 45 minutes of play and only one corner kick. Slippery Rock played the final eight minutes a man down, after having a player sent off and after the matchup Slippery Rock (11-7) saw its 2014 campaign come to a close.
As anticipated all season, The Golden Rams made their way into the semifinals of the PSAC post-season tournament for the third straight season. On Friday morning, West Chester took on regular-season champion and seventh-ranked Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa, leaving with a 2-1 loss and ending their hardworking season.
The matchup trailed with a slow start and an intense finish as both squads took the game into double overtime. Tommy Ryan took a feed from Christian Benner and was awarded the first and lone goal for the Golden Rams when he beat Mercyhurst’s goalkeeper to the top left corner in the 54th minute.
Jack Watson of Mercyhurst was awarded a penalty kick in the 89th minute of regulation, just moments before West Chester could’ve taken the game themselves. Danny Deakin of Mercyhurst then converted Watson’s attempt to knot the score 1-1 and trail both teams into overtime.
Back and forth, both squads battled to reach the back of the net but couldn’t seem to find it until a second round of overtime was set in place. Watson then scored the second goal for Mercyhurst, ending West Chester’s hard earned season. Palmer made 10 saves to keep the Golden Rams in the game.
Mercyhurst (11-2) went on to win the conference title. The loss for the Golden Rams marks the third straight year in which West Chester dropped its conference semifinal match. West Chester has never won the PSAC Men’s Soccer Championship, however the Rams did play for the title in 2004. The squad is now 3-10-2 all time in PSAC Tournament and will rest up for next year’s endeavors.
With various bumps in the road and a young team overall, the Golden Rams have worked for a hard-earned, successful season. The West Chester University men’s soccer team affiliates, specifically the 2014 seniors, have also proved their dedication and will be missed upon next season’s lineup.
Gianna Seeney is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at GS789405@wcupa.edu