The West Chester University field hockey team saw its hope to repeat as PSAC Champions come to an end with a loss to East Stroudsburg in the semifinals of the PSAC Tournament this week. Their fate is now in the hands of the NCAA’s selection committee to see if they will get a bid on Monday afternoon for the NCAA Tournament, where they fell in the semifinals last year to Millersville University, the current reigning national champions.
Six members of the team were named to the 2015 All-PSAC teams on Wednesday afternoon. Kristina Scherrer, Alexis Versak, Marnie Kusakavitch and Dayle Paustian were named to the first team all-league squad. Rachal Toppi was a second-team selection, and Nikki Bennett was a third-team choice. The senior back Scherrer also took home the honors of PSAC Defensive Player of The Year. Scherrer has scored five goals this season while also assisting on five others, but the majority of her workload is being the backbone of the Golden Ram defense.
Scherrer is a two-time All-PSAC selection and is the first Golden Rams to receive the defensive athlete of the year award. Her five goals and five assists put her fifth on the team, and she also recorded a team high six defensive saves. Versak and Kusakvitch are also repeat first-team All-PSAC selections. Toppi followed up her PSAC Freshman of The Year campaign with her second straight 20 goal season with 21 on the season along with 44 points, second in the league to Kutztown’s Anna Behm in both categories. Bennett is a player who will become the backbone of the defense following this season, she recorded two assists this season along with a defensive save during her increased role for the Golden Ram defense.
West Chester opened up the PSAC Tournament on the road against Kutztown University. The two teams split the pair of meetings in the regular season. Senior Alayna Brown got WCU on the board early with her second goal of the season just three minutes into the contest for the early lead. Courtney Ueberroth answered Brown’s goal 19 minutes later to even things up at 1-1. The Golden Rams needed momentum going into the half, and they sure got it. Kusakavitch and Versak, two All-PSAC First Team selection countered the Kutztown goal with two goals of their own four minutes apart to go into the half with a 3-1 lead. Coming out of the half, one of the best duos in the PSAC connected for a pair of goals two minutes apart. Kusakavitch and Toppi each tacked on a goal to increase the lead to 5-1, their 16th and 20th goals of the season, respectively. Toppi closed out the scoring and secured the victory for the Golden Rams two minutes after her last goal with her 21st of the season to give WCU the 6-1 victory and to help them move on to the PSAC Semifinals.
No. 3 West Chester traveled to top seed East Stroudsburg on Friday for a PSAC Semifinals matchup. ESU handed WCU one of its three losses this season during their only meeting of the season, 4-0. Rebecca Snyder got the Warriors on the board first in the 13th minute to give the home side the early 1-0 lead. Brown continued her impressive postseason for the Golden Rams with her second goal in as many games in the 33rd minute to send the two teams into half with a 1-1 tie. The Warriors must’ve gotten an ear-full from their coach during the break, because the second half was a completely different game. East Stroudsburg completely dominated West Chester in each and every aspect of the game during the half. Paige Harrold gave ESU a 2-1 lead in the 49th minute, and Marisa Miro tacked on another five minutes later to give ESU a 3-1 lead. West Chester would spend the next 15 minutes desperately trying to make a comeback and trying to keep their postseason alive, but East Stroudsburg was having none of it.
The Warriors did not go into defensive mode as many teams would up two goals with 15 minutes left, they did the exact opposite. ESU outshot West Chester 16-6 in the second half, and held an 11-1 advantage on penalty corners during the half. It was nearly impossible for the Golden Rams to mount anything on offense, as the Warriors held a tremendous time of possession advantage during the half. The comeback bid fell short for the Golden Rams as they fell to top seeded East Stroudsburg 3-1, as did their hopes to repeat as PSAC Champions.
The status of whether or not WCU will get an NCAA Tournament bid is unknown. With a 7-3 record in PSAC play, it will be tough for West Chester to squeeze into one of the spots which will most likely be filled by a combination of East Stroudsburg, Millersville, Shippensburg, or Kutztown. Their fate will be decided on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. If they do not receive a bid into the tournament, four key members of the squad will have played their final game as a Golden Ram in the loss to East Stroudsburg. Scherrer, Versak, Brown, and Alexa Moran will be dearly missed on the field for West Chester. The future is still bright for the Golden Rams, as four out of five of their top scorers will be returning next season. The holes left by the graduating seniors will need to be filled by some of the younger players on Head Coach Amy Cohen’s team.
Dylan Harrison is a fourth-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at DH785892@wcupa.edu