The Golden Rams lost on Friday, Nov. 18 3-2 to Kutztown in the third round of the NCAA Division 2 playoffs, after an impressive comeback effort by the Golden Bears.
The result was the first regulation loss for West Chester this year, and it came at a crucial time of year. The loss now ends the careers of a senior-laden team, including captains Kara Parvel, Erica Hansen, Lexi Brown and Scarlett Walsh. In total there are 11 players who will be finishing the season on a sour note.
The match started off well for the Rams, with Walsh doing what she does best: scoring. In the 17th minute, Walsh headed in a cross from Brown for the 10th goal of the season for the PSAC Conference Player of the Year. The next goal would also come from the Rams, but this time it was senior Haley Mangiaruga, who received a beautiful set up by sophomore Julia Kirkpatrick. The goal gave the Golden Rams a 2-0 lead that seemed to be safe going into the half.
However, the Golden Bears were determined to go into halftime with some momentum. They were able to cut the deficit in half in the 42nd minute, on a shot by Kutztown’s Emily Ziercan that beat Alex Srolis. The goal gave Kutztown new life, as they now could see that they could play with, and ultimately beat West Chester.
The second half got off to a very fast start, with a goal in the 50th minute by KU’s Maddie Mohr. West Chester was back on their heels wondering where this offensive powerhouse was coming from. In the two teams’ earlier matchup this year, the Golden Rams were able to earn a 3-1 victory against this same Kutztown squad. It was obvious on Friday that this was a different team than West Chester faced back in September. Their confidence put them in position for the goal that would prove to be the difference in the game. Kutztown was able to earn a corner kick, giving them a great opportunity to break the tie.
They did so as Kristian Miller was able to escape her mark and get a foot on the ball. She was able to hit it between multiple bodies and past Srolis. The goal was the game winner, despite over 30 minutes in time remaining for the Rams to knot it up again.
It was a frustrating game for the Rams as they had control of the flow of the game throughout most of the match. It was a short period of weakness that allowed Kutztown to make their move.
Freshman Jenny Bail believes that the goal at the end of the first half played a huge role, as it “gave them hope of getting back in the game and their perseverance at the beginning of the second half took us off guard a little bit.”
West Chester found themselves with multiple chances late in the match, earning multiple corners and a wide variety of chances, but they could not break through a back line of Kutztown that more closely resembled a brick wall than young women by the match’s end. Their work at preventing shots on goal meant that keeper Imani Taylor only had to make two saves in the match.
The season was still a successful one for the Rams in multiple facets. Srolis broke multiple school records this year, Coach Kempf-Townsley earned PSAC Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year for the second time in her career and the team overall had their most wins in a season since 2009, as well as their undefeated regular season.
Team captain Parvel felt the season was one to be proud of.
“I am absolutely so proud and happy with how much we accomplished this season.”
Even though the ending wasn’t exactly what the Lady Rams pictured, there was still a lot to be thankful for.
“We went undefeated, which is usually unheard of, and we were the only team on D2 to not lose a game. If that isn’t something to be proud of, then I don’t know what is.”
It will be a bittersweet end for players like Parvel, who played all four years of her collegiate career at West Chester.
“I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me and my teammates.”
For young players like Bail, though, this is hopefully a start of great things to come. The Cumberland Valley grad came into West Chester with high expectations but did not foresee this kind of season.
“It was so much better than anything I could’ve imaged. Our seniors were absolutely amazing, and it was such a great a great experience being a part of such a successful team.”
After such a stellar campaign, this will hopefully continue the success of the program for years to come.
Ryan Hunt is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RH803937@wcupa.edu.