With a dominating team effort on Saturday afternoon against University of California Pennsylvania, the Rams won 4-0 at Rockwell field in West Chester. The Rams struck quickly with two goals in the first eight minutes of the game, and their defense preserved the lead with their sixth shutout of the season.
Each of the Rams’ four goals were scored by different players. Stephen Thompson and Brett Miller scored the first two, while Nick Jachwak and Daniel Grindrod scored in the second half. The Ram’s Head Coach Michael Benn believes this kind of balanced attack is key to their success.
“We can’t rely on one person to get it done,” Benn said. “It’s going to have to be a team effort, and different people are going to have to step up on different days based on circumstances and opposition.”
According to Benn, Jachwak’s goal that was six minutes into the second half turned out to be a crucial moment in the game. Jachwak scored on an assist from forward Doug Goitia which increased West Chester’s lead to 3-0.
“To get that goal relatively early in the second half allowed us to move a little bit and relax,” Benn said. Notably, the assist was Goitia’s second of the game, and the goal was Jachwak’s second of the season.
Given the strength of the Ram’s defense, the 3-0 lead seemed almost insurmountable, especially for the University of California’s struggling offense. California’s offense ranks second-worst in the PSAC conference in goals per game at 0.80, while West Chester’s defense ranks number one with 0.58 goals allowed per game.
“We really wanted to play with high pressure,” Benn said. “And we tried to get after the ball everywhere and not give them time on the field to get comfortable.”
The Rams’ aggressive strategy paid off, as California only generated two shots on goal. Meanwhile, West Chester had eight.
“[Kyle Hoops, Andrew Slater and Sami Phelps] have done a really good job of leading this group,” Benn said. “They all play well on the defensive side of the ball. They are doing a great job for us on the field and with their leadership.”
The win was West Chester’s third in a row. Earlier in the week, they defeated Millersville University 2-1 on the road with a dramatic game winning goal by Goitia with less than a minute left on the clock.
“Our performance at Millersville on Wednesday was very good, particularly in the second half,” Benn said. “I think when you get big emotional wins like that with a late goal, you use that momentum to move forward.”
Benn added that playing in front of the home crowd on Saturday provided the team with a boost. West Chester is undefeated at home this season with a 5-0-2 record at Rockwell field. The last time the Rams lost a home game was last year against Georgian Court University in September.
The Rams’ next game will be a pivotal conference match at Gannon University on Friday. It will be a showdown of the two top ranked teams in the PSAC, as Gannon holds a 6-1 record in the conference while West Chester is right behind them with a 4-1-1 PSAC record.
The Rams will also play Lockhaven University on Sunday—only two days after facing Gannon. Coach Benn believes that the team’s depth they showed today will be their advantage during this tough stretch.
“It’s going to be a really good challenge,” Benn said in relation to the upcoming schedule. “That’s why we try and be as deep as we are, so we can play multiple players and try to get through this difficult weekend.”
Brian Devine is a fourth-year student majoring in English and minoring in journalism. BD884861@wcupa.edu.