Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

It seems the Golden Rams field hockey squad may have finally hit their hot streak, and with the end of the season quickly approaching, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Coming off a two-win week seven days earlier, West Chester continued to stay hot this week with a trio of wins, coming against Ursinus College, Mansfield University and Mercyhurst University.

West Chester’s junior forward Rachal Toppi was named PSAC Athlete of the Week last week with her three goals in the pair of wins. Toppi was also named ECAC Division II Player of the Week. Toppi is currently the leading scorer for WCU, with 19 goals on the season. Maya Gulliksen was named ECAC Division II Rookie of the Week for her defensive role in the pair of wins last week for West Chester.

West Chester opened up the week on Sunday, Oct. 16 with a matchup at home against Ursinus in the 70th all-time Snell Cup, which also happened to be Senior Day for WCU. The Golden Rams jumped out to an early lead in the 11th minute when Marnie Kusakavitch scored her seventh goal of the season on a breakaway. Toppi added a goal of her own three minutes later to make a 2-0 lead. Ursinus was able to manage just one shot on offense in the first half, and nothing noteworthy came from it.

Gulliksen tacked on her fourth goal of the season in the 39th minute to make a 3-0 lead for the Golden Rams. Brooke Overly finally potted one for Ursinus in the 41st minute to make it a 3-1 game, but that’s as close as they came. West Chester dominated in shots, holding a 32-5 advantage in the game.

WCU looked to keep the momentum going on Tuesday, Oct. 18 with a home matchup against Mansfield. As they seem to always do, the Golden Rams jumped out to an early lead, this time in the fourth minute thanks to Dayle Paustian’s fifth goal of the season. Paustian wasn’t done quiet yet, as she added another 12 minutes later for a 2-0 lead in the 16th minute. Toppi closed out the scoring in the half for WCU with her 15th of the season. Mansfield was blanked in the first half, only mustering one shot on offense.

Kusakavitch opened the scoring in the second half with her eighth of the season to make it a 4-0 game. Toppi put the nail in the coffin in the 55th minute with a penalty stroke goal, her 16th of the season to seal the 5-0 victory. The one shot in the first half for Mansfield ended up being the only shot they would create all game. Another stellar performance by the Golden Rams’ defense worked to give them their fourth straight victory.

West Chester closed out the week on the road in Erie on Saturday, Oct. 22 with a matchup against Mercyhurst University. It’s pretty much expected at this point, but the Golden Rams again jumped out to an early lead in the 10th minute thanks to a Toppi goal off a penalty corner, assisted by Kaitlin Hatch. Bryna Cook answered back for Mercyhurst in the 26th minute to tie things up at 1-1, and that would do it for the scoring in the first half. The WCU defense again allowed the opponent to one shot in the first half; the difference this time is the goal that came from it.

Toppi opened up the scoring in the second half with her second goal of the game in the 47th minute to break the tie. Kusakavitch continued her impressive week five minutes later to make it a 3-1 lead for WCU. Toppi continued to show why she was named Athlete of the Week when she completed the hat-trick in the 66th minute to give West Chester a three-goal lead. Kusakavitch tacked on another one for good measure in the 68th minute to close out the scoring in the game for a 5-1 Golden Ram  victory, their fifth straight. The WCU defense stymied the Mercyhurst offense the entire game, allowing only four shots.

This win streak is coming at the perfect time for West Chester, who was ranked fifth in the first NCAA poll of the season. They will need to be in the top three in the region in order to qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament, something they’re used to doing. Just two games remain in the regular season, including a matchup with Millersville University, who sits at third in the NCAA polls. West Chester will close out the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 29 with a matchup against Seton Hill University and then prepare for the PSAC tournament.

Dylan Harrison is a fifth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at DH785892@wcupa.edu.

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