The men’s soccer team finished off a solid week at Shippensburg University with a nail-biting 3-2 in overtime. The Golden Rams (5-2-1) improved their stellar PSAC record to 4-1 while the Raiders (5-3) fell below .500 in the conference at 2-3.
The Rams took the first lead at David See Field when freshman Brett Miller scored his second goal of the season in the 18th minute on a tremendous individual effort. They had a blank sheet going into the 2nd half which was quickly erased in the 48th minute on a free kick by Shippensburg senior forward Colten Arnold on a somewhat fluky bounce.
Sophomore Kyle Hoops can attest that “set pieces have been a strength and a weakness for us,” a great offensive tool in their game, but a chink in the armor for their defense. The team kept on pushing through, sending shot after shot in an attempt to break the tie, and it came in the 70th minute. On a long throw-in, Hoops had a go from the back post that was blocked, but it set up a prime header opportunity for captain Brian Schaefer who did not let it go to waste and put WCU back up 3-2.
That was when the Achilles’ heel of the team reared its ugly head again on another set piece. In the 80th minute, Shippensburg Sophomore Jake Shefsky floated a free kick over the wall into the corner of the net to even the score again. The game went into overtime, and the Golden Rams were not going to let the game slip away from them. Miller started the play by passing it to sophomore Jason Pixley who in turn touched it to junior Colin Hester. Hester finished it by making a beautiful play to get around the keeper and kicked a rocket into the top corner to win the game.
The Golden Rams fell in a fast-paced battle with visiting Wilmington University, 2-1. Their Delaware foes started off the match with a high energy, high pressure barrage. It was only a matter of time until the Wildcats would break through and that happened in the 20th minute on a corner kick that was headed in by freshman Lorne Bickley. The young forward now has four goals on the season, and his team took the lead into the half.
WCU’s coach Michael Benn tried to rally the troops for the second half. He felt that “the first half we were playing like 11 individuals rather than a team.” The group tried to take the coach’s words to heart, as they came out in the next session with more energy and began to create more chances.
The biggest opportunity early on for the Rams was created by freshman Miller, but his effort was turned back and quickly resulted in a strong counter-attack by Wilmington, resulting in their second goal of the afternoon. This was carried out by senior Deron Jue on a beautiful set up by Jamie Burridge to give the away team a 2-0 lead. As time ticked away, the hope for a comeback seemed to fade with each passing second, but the hometown heroes weren’t going down without a fight. Hoops said that this whole year, the team’s mindset has been “Don’t let our highs get too high, or our lows get too low.”
Finally, in the 68th minute, the team shook off their slow start and brought their deficit to one on a beautifully crafted run which was finished off by Pixley. Pixley’s 2nd of the year gave the team a new energy to run off of. From that moment on, the possession totals swung heavily in favor of the Golden Rams. Unfortunately it was all for naught, as luck just wasn’t on the Ram’s side. The most-talked about moment after the game from the losing side occurred in the 70th minute when freshman Connor Gwin appeared to be fouled near the endline by the Wilmington keeper. The crowd was in an uproar as they voiced their displeasure at the call going the other way.
But in the end it was a slow start, not any one call that doomed West Chester.
The team’s opponents this week consist of a huge showdown on Tuesday, Sept. 27 with PSAC rival Millersville at Rockwell Field, and a journey to Lakewood, NJ on Thursday, Sept. 29 to take on Georgian Court University.
Ryan Hunt can be reached at RH803937@wcupa.edu.