Heading into the 2015 regular season, the West Chester Lady Rams soccer team was ranked first in the PSAC and eighth in the nation among Division II programs, and so far they have proven that they deserve that recognition.
Heading into their game Saturday, the Lady Rams boasted a 3-0 record, putting them in first place in the PSAC, just as the polls predicted.
West Chester opened their season by hitting the road and taking on PSAC rival Bloomsburg University on Sept. 3. It was a defensive battle for a large portion of the first half as both teams struggled to develop any legitimate chances on the offensive side of the ball. That was until Erica Hansen booted a shot from 25 yards out that found the back of the net for the Golden Rams’ first goal of the season, putting them up 1-0. In the final minutes of the first half Kara Parvel notched another goal, giving West Chester a 2-0 lead heading into the second half.
Haley Mangiaruga added a third goal in the second half for some insurance, and goalkeeper Alex Srolis allowed no goals to the Huskies for her first shutout in West Chester’s opening game.
Srolis had a bit of an easier time in net on Sept. 5 when she and the Lady Rams hosted Pitt-Johnstown. The Mountain Lions were unable to record a shot due to the Golden Rams’ swarming defense that did not allow their opponents to get into any sort of rhythm offensively. West Chester cruised to their second shutout in as many games.
Mangiaruga had herself a day against Pitt-Johnstown, netting two goals leading the way for the Lady Rams as they went on to secure a 2-0 victory. With the two goals, Mangiaruga put herself in a tie for fourth place in goals scored in the entire PSAC.
By their third game, played on Sept. 11, the Lady Rams had climbed a couple of spots in the national rankings to No. 5 as they took on Mercyhurst University at a neutral site.
The Lady Rams jumped out to yet another lead against Mercyhurst when Scarlett Walsh scored her first goal of the season in the 18th minute. A few minutes later, sophomore transfer Taylor Jamison scored her first goal as a member of the purple and gold in the 24th minute to extend West Chester’s lead to 2-0. Both goals were scored after beautiful assists by Parvel.
Srolis played the entire game for the third straight time against Mercyhurst, improving her record to 3-0 on the season. The Golden Rams did, however, allow their first goal of the season when Kristina Roberti of Mercyhurst scored at the end of the first half. Both teams’ defenses prevailed after that and West Chester went on to win the game 2-1.
West Chester has outscored their opponents 7-1 in their first three contests, putting on display just how dominant they will be this season. Surprisingly, they only have two seniors on the roster, suggesting that this kind of success can be expected for years to come as the team grows and matures together.
The Golden Rams look to advance further in the playoffs this season after an early exit in the PSAC tournament last year. As the second seed last fall the Rams defeated No. 7 Gannon University 3-0 to advance to the semi-final where they met Kutztown University. The Golden Rams dug themselves a hole early, allowing three goals in the first half, and were never able to recover.
West Chester tallied two goals, but Kutztown added one of their own, putting the game out of reach for the Rams, sending them home with a final score of 4-2.
On Saturday, after publication, the Golden Rams took on Gannon University, with the hopes to continue their hot streak. They look to keep the momentum rolling into next week, when they take on Kutztown University for the first time since the Golden Bears knocked West Chester out of the playoffs. The game is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. at West Chester. Next Saturday, the Rams will also play host to California University of Pennsylvania. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m.
Billy Reardon is a fourth-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at WR783095@wcupa.edu