West Chester had multiple national championship-winning programs last fall and spring, one of them being the field hockey team.
The program has been very successful throughout the last decade, with multiple PSAC championships (2012, 2014, 2017, 2018) and national championships (2011, 2012, 2019), including the most recent one from last fall. The team has reached the National Semifinals a total of six times, as well.
Head Coach Amy Cohen has been the head of the program over the past 10 years, overseeing this success. Cohen has accumulated a staggering record of 1513–7 as head coach, and last season, only one loss was added to that record. WCU field hockey had a record of 20–1 last fall and outscored their opponents by a margin of 92–13, a dominating season en route to a national championship. Cohen has coached 34 players who were named All-America, and has helped develop three NFHCA Division II National players of the year — quite the resume for Cohen.
Coach Cohen commented on defending the 2019 national title:
“Of course we were all disappointed we would not be able to play this fall, but it was the right decision at the time it was made. We want to defend our 2019 National Championship and will be prepared to do so whenever that may be.”
As of early October, the prospects for a spring season are up in the air. Coach Cohen discussed her thoughts on the situation:
“We are all very hopeful that the university will find a safe way for athletics to return to play. We are all ready to go and, at the very least, would love to see our spring sports competing and the rest of us practicing. Either way, we will support the university and, most importantly, support our student athletes as best we can.”
A huge part of the national championship squad from last fall is fourth-year player Caitlin McNamara. A starter in every game for the past three seasons, McNamara tallied nine goals and 13 assists while being named the ECAC Defensive Athlete of the Year and PSAC Defensive Player of the Year last fall. After being named to the NFHCA All-America Second Team in 2018, she was named to the NFHCA All-America First Team in 2019.
I asked her how confident she was that the team could return to the national title game if there were to be a season:
“The team really did have a great run; everyone put in their best, and it was very clear by the results. I think we were all confident that we were able to get back to the championship game, following the last year’s NCAA tournament, and I think we knew we have the abilities and correct mindset to really go in and take what we had lost the last year, and we were able to prove that to ourselves.”
McNamara also commented on the spring situation:
“It’s hard to speculate what will happen come springtime, but I do believe that the university will do their best to keep us playing the sports we love in the safest manner!”
I also spoke with fourth-year player Emma Velez. Velez started all 21 games last season as well, scoring five goals and six assists last fall. Velez was also named to the NFHCA National Academic Squad, as well as the All-PSAC Third Team.
Velez talked about her feelings on the fall season being cancelled:
“Though I understood the decision, it was disappointing to hear that we were not going to have the chance to go back out there and defend our National title this year.”
Velez shared how the team has stayed in touch throughout the fall:
“Twice a week, the team meets with our strength and conditioning coach, Packer, and he leads us in a virtual Zoom workout. We also have independent conditioning workouts that we complete each week.”
Velez seemed optimistic about their chances of playing in the spring.
“I would say that I’m hopeful that we will be able to play together, in some capacity, this Spring. I do think there are ways for us to get back onto the field safely.”
For updates on the WCU field hockey team, check out www.wcupagoldenrams.com.
Tyler Grace is a fourth-year economics and finance major. TG885739@wcupa.edu