No. 7 West Chester University Women’s Lacrosse (16-1, 11-1 PSAC East) closed their regular season campaign with an 11-game winning streak as they trumped both East Stroudsburg University and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania this week. WCU also finished the season with an impressive 8-0 record at home.
The Golden Rams were pushed to the brink against the No. 19 East Stroudsburg Warriors (12-5, 7-5) on Wednesday, as it took two overtime sessions to crown a winner in what proved to be a dramatic 9-8 victory for West Chester.
Kristen Vath notched the game-clinching goal with 2:05 in the second overtime frame, as her only score of the contest came at a pivotal moment for the Golden Rams. Hannah Cowan piloted WCU’s scoring ship as she recorded three goals, and Dina Cifelli tallied four total points as she scored two goals and dished out two assists.
Ashley Pyle, Sami Barnett and Erin Gallagher each added a goal, as West Chester needed any contribution they could get to eek this one out.
Paige Mitros’ goalkeeping was key in the win, as she had a career-high 12 saves, including one in the second overtime that kept the game knotted up as the Warriors looked to walk away with the win. Mitros’ 12 saves also marks the third time in her career that she’s had double-digit saves in a game.
WCU and ESU were neck-and-neck by most statistical measures in this one, with the Golden Rams edging the Warriors 26-25 in shots (21-20 shots on goal,) and 21-20 in the turnover department. McKayl Novak, along with Emily McAleer, powered West Chester’s gritty defense as they combined to coerce ESU into seven turnovers.
WCU had become accustomed to establishing comfortable cushions, leads that were virtually insurmountable, but this game differed from most others they have played this season as the Golden Rams’ biggest lead was two. The two teams waged war back and forth with the game featuring seven ties.
There was a stark contrast between the Golden Rams’ battle against the Warriors and their 17-6 shellacking of the Edinboro Fighting Scots (7-10, 2-10) during their finale season game on Saturday afternoon in which West Chester was in no real danger of losing.
Erin Eckert and Pyle’s four goals paced the pack with Cowan adding three of her own. Olivia Martin chipped in with two scores and three assists, and Cifelli again set the table with a team-high four assists.
Mitros didn’t have to exert much energy in this one as WCU remained in command for the duration, but she did record five saves, bumping her record up to 16-1 on the season.
West Chester started the game on a 7-0 run, and they went on to claim nine of the game’s first 10 goals with a 19-shot margin to boot (WCU outshot Edinboro 35-16, including 26-11 in shots on goal).
Edinboro’s 10 first half turnovers paired with WCU’s aggression on the offensive end made it hard for them to establish any rhythm, squandering any opportunity they may have had to conclude their campaign with an upset victory.
With the victory, the Golden Rams claimed a share of the PSAC regular-season title with Mercyhurst University and earned a first-round bye in the upcoming PSAC Conference Tournament. It will be held in Erie, Pa. on the weekend of May 6.
WCU boasts the No. 2 seed heading into the tournament. They will face the winner of No. 3 Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the No. 6 seed who has yet to be determined.
As WCU’s regular season comes to a close, we’d like to recognize the seven seniors and thank them for their contributions during their tenure as a Golden Ram. Erin Gallagher, Caroline Kuchinsky, Danielle Ferguson, Erin Scheno, McAleer, Eckert and Cowan all did tremendous things on and off the field here at West Chester. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors which hopefully includes claiming a PSAC East Championship for WCU to put the finishing touches on a successful career as a Golden Ram.
West Chester fell to Mercyhurst 10-9 on a last-second shot in overtime during last year’s PSAC Tournament in the semifinals.
The Golden Rams had trailed the contest 7-2 at halftime, but managed to rally and put a scare in Mercyhurst.
West Chester’s comeback featured six unanswered goals, but ultimately they were unable to overcome the deifict.
If things play out as expected, WCU could duel against Mercyhurst in this year’s PSAC Tournament Championship, looking to extract some revenge and claim conference supremacy. West Chester’s confidence is booming, and they feel as if they can upend Mercyhurst if the two were to meet up for the coveted championship.
B.J. Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.