The West Chester men’s soccer team (5-3-2, 4-1-1 PSAC) came out of this week without any victories. They failed to give themselves breathing room in the tight race for the PSAC regular season crown. They began the week with an important showdown with conference rival Millersville (6-2-2, 3-1-2 PSAC) on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The match had huge implications for both teams, and the tension on the field could be cut with a knife. There were physical battles galore and a number of fouls going both ways. It was obvious that these two teams were not fans of each other, and they showed that to the tune of two yellow cards for each squad. As much as each team wanted a win, the match ended in a 0-0 draw.
The match got off to a hot start for the Marauders as they had multiple scoring chances in the first 15 minutes but just couldn’t find the back of the net. From then on out the game appeared to plateau as no one could muster up any offensive opportunities. The second half brought more excitement, but it was one-sided. Millersville began to find the seams in the West Chester back line, but even as their shot totals rose, the score remained the same.
The Rams would find themselves in a very familiar position for the year as the two teams went to overtime after no one could break the tie. The Ram’s best chance of the entire match came in the first minute of overtime as Gio Mowrey played like a man possessed; the ball almost looked like it was a part of him. He was able to rush down the left side of the field and send a tremendous cross towards the middle that just eluded finding a friendly head.
The final whistle would blow with both teams left wondering what they could have done differently. The shot totals were a lopsided 12-4 in favor of Millersville, but they were only on target three times.
The second match of the week took the Rams east to Georgian Court University (6-3) looking for some goals, but in the end they didn’t have enough in a 3-2 loss. The team still got off on the right foot as their first goal came in the 25th minute off the boot of sophomore Tyler Rapposelli, his first of the season. The Rams had a much stronger showing against the Lions as they finished the half with eight shots to only two from their opponents.
They continued their momentum into the second as they increased their lead to 2-0 after junior Colin Hester finished off a breakaway opportunity he created after picking the pocket of a GCU defender. Hester’s second goal of the season had the Golden Rams feeling good about the way they were playing.
Then the clock struck at the 70th minute, and it all began to slip away from them. GCU drew a free kick that would result in a header from freshman defender Michael Tapp, cutting the Ram’s lead in half. Before West Chester could catch its breath the Lions were right back at it again, feeding off the first goal. They would score again only minutes later in the 74th minute after a pass by senior Michael Clarke made its way across the goal to a waiting Ben Alhadif. The junior didn’t miss a beat as he quickly knocked in the tying goal.
Coach Benn tried to stop the bleeding as he made a number of substitutions but he couldn’t prevent the natural reaction to a lead disappearing in a matter of minutes: panic.
The nerves of West Chester came into play as they fouled GCU in the box leading to a penalty kick. With the momentum arrow pointing in favor of the Lions, it was all but clinched that they would capitalize on the opportunity and senior Ricardo Vascones was the one to do it. His second goal of the season was the game-winner.
The men will look to rebound this week early as they travel into Philadelphia on Monday, Oct. 3 to face Holy Family University. Then they return to their home field on Wednesday, Oct. 5 to duke it out with Goldey-Beacom College at 3 p.m.
Ryan Hunt is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RH803937@wcupa.edu.