West Chester women’s field hockey team, who went 13-7 last year is back and off to a strong start. West Chester is ranked No. 3 in PSAC and No.7 in the NFHCA Division II Coaches Poll.
The team’s home opener on Friday, Sept. 1 was nothing but an explosive beginning to their season.
Scoring within the first five minutes, senior Mackenzie Mlkvy gave the Rams an early advantage over No. 10 Adelphi.
“Not seeing Adelphi often is difficult,” said captain Rachal Toppi. “We basically stick to our game and try to let that guide us.”
Within the next 10 minutes the Rams added two more goals by Kaitlin Hatch and Caitlin Kelly. Senior captains Morgan Snodgrass and Toppi assisted the two goals.
Toppi later scored in the 30th minute sending the Rams into the locker room with a 4-0 lead.
“While we were pleased to be up going into halftime, we knew we still had some pieces to clean up,” said Hatch.
The second half consisted of a similar offensive rush. Kelly and Mlkvy both scoring again leading to the final score of 6-0 Rams.
Senior Amanda Gargiulo had 10 saves in the match. Working as a team, the Rams left Adelphi scoreless.
The Rams defense and goalie allowed for nine shots and one goal is the first three games.
“Our goaltending and defense is one of our strengths,” said Toppi. “Our success depends a lot on how they play.”
In their second game against Seton Hall, the Rams brought their explosive nature again. With two goals off of six shots, Hatch lead the scoring in the match.
Scoring within the first three minutes, sophomore Katie Thompson gave the Rams the early advantage they were looking for.
According to Hatch, scoring early in the game gives the team “some confidence and a burst of energy.”
Junior Kelsey Munster had her first goal of the season in the 29th minute of the match. Freshman Caitie McNamara from Buderim, Australia, also had her first goal which was scored in the 19th minute. Both of which allowing for a 4-0 lead going into halftime.
The second half allowed for three more goals. Toppi converted a penalty shot in the 39th minute.
“Taking a stroke is one of those moments I have enjoyed throughout my career,” said Toppi.
The anticipation leading up to the shot is her favorite part according to Toppi.
“My favorite moment is those few seconds just before the shot. Everyone is watching and there is silence,” said Toppi. “It is the time when both the goalie and I are deciding our plan.”
Mlkvy was also back and scoring in this match bringing her goals to three on the season.
The Golden Rams faced their opponent No. 6 Bloomsburg on Tuesday afternoon in their third straight home game.
“We were amped up to play Bloomsburg,” said Toppi. “Bloomsburg has always been a good challenge.”
In the 25th minute the first goal was scored by Hatch. Hatch was assisted by McNamara. Soon after, Kelly added her third goal of the season. The reverse chip sent them up 2-0 into the second half.
Toppi scored in the 41st minute, again assisted by McNamara. This is Toppi’s third goal in three matches.
Hatch added another goal to her total of 5 goals off of another assist from McNamara.
An hour into Bloomsburg’s game, West Chester tallied their first goal against. Lily Fredman from Bloomsburg put one past Marissa Elizardo.
Elizardo made four saves for the win over Bloomsburg.
Along with her three assists, McNamara added her first goal of the season as well.
Although the Rams can agree that winning their first three games was an excellent confidence boost, they need to keep focus on what lies ahead.
“I think it’s important to keep in perspective that each game is different,” said Snodgrass. “ We need to keep in mind that our goal is to keep gaining wins and staying away from losses.”
Following the Bloomsburg match, the Rams had a weekend full of field hockey.
Beginning their three-game road trip, Saturday they faced Mansfield University followed by Ursinus on Sunday.
“It [two consecutive games] is tough on your body, but who doesn’t not play back-to-back game days,” said Hatch.
Saturday the Rams faced their fourth opponent Mansfield University (3-3).
With a score of 2-1 the Rams tallied their first road win.
Thompson scored in the 13th minute to give the Rams another early lead.
In the last three minutes Toppi scored for her fourth consecutive game this season leading the team to their fourth win.
The Rams outshot the Mountaineers 44 to 16. They also earned six cards against them.
Their game against Ursinus on Sunday will be a battle for the Snell Cup. They will then return home to face Kutztown on Wednesday.
Energy always seems to be very high on and off the Vonnie Gros field.
The Rams can all agree their “fun” or “goofy” teammate is Lily Feldman.
Teammate Hatch says, “Lily is the funniest person on the team and maybe the funniest person you’ll ever meet.”
Off the field Captain Morgan Snodgrass is the “mother hen” according to co-captain Toppi.
“She [Snodgrass] is always there to make sure our underclassman understand the discipline it takes to be a part of this team,” said Toppi.
“I try to make sure all the girls are taken care of,” said Snodgrass, “especially the freshmen since they are away from home for the first time.”
As it is her last season here Toppi says her biggest goal is to enjoy the last season she has left. “I want to make as many great memories as possible.”
Snodgrass says she hopes she can be an inspiration to others.
“I worked extremely hard to make a name for myself on this team,” said Snodgrass. “I wasn’t the best player on the team, the fastest, or the one who scored all the goals – I was the workhorse and I knew I wanted to continue a legacy that was started from so many more players in front of me.”
The Rams say as the season progresses they have much to look forward to.
“This team truly has to potential to do great things” said Hatch. “I am excited to see our potential unfold.”
Jordan Zimmerman is a first-year student with an undeclared major. They can be reached at JZ885480@wcupa.edu.