West Chester nips Lock Haven
Golden Rams headed to ninth semifinal in 11 years
LOCK HAVEN, Pa. - West Chester avenged its loss in the PSAC Championship Game to Lock Haven and advances to its ninth national semifinal in the last 11 years with the win. The Lady Eagles saw their season come to an end at the hands of bitter rival West Chester in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.
West Chester won the game 9-8.
“(The defense) was on a string,” West Chester head coach Ginny Martino said afterwards in the press conference. “One would go, and the rest would slide. The communication was there, and they were all working as one.”
West Chester’s defense limited Lock Haven to just two goals in the first half and three tallies in the first 45 minutes of the contest. More importantly, the stop unit shut down The Haven’s top threat Allison Berger, who did not register a point in the contest until the Lady Eagles made their late run.
“(Lock Haven) has a whole parameter of ways in which to score goals, and to shut them down the way we did was just phenomenal,” Martino added.
The responsibility of shutting down No. 28 Allison Berger lied mainly on the shoulders of junior defender Kelly Klever. Her play, particularly in the first half, was the key to the Rams’ defense Saturday.
“You are a unit out there,” Klever explained. “Sometimes, you have to slide and cover someone else. I felt anyone of us could have done the same job. Offense may score the goals, but I think a big stop at the other end is what gets our team going and builds momentum. Ground balls and slides, the little things, is what gets us pumped up as a defense.”
It was West Chester’s sliding ability that cut off many of the openings Lock Haven tried to exploit. The Lady Eagles seemed hesitant to take their shots, particularly in the first half when the Golden Rams held their opponent to two goals on just seven shots.
“We were backing out and not taking shots,” Lock Haven head coach Kristen Selvage said afterwards. “They had good poise and patience, but you have to take some chances when you want to put the ball in the net. We weren’t doing that in the first half.”
“I thought (our team’s) effort was phenomenal,” Selvage added. “I just wish they had gotten started a little sooner.”
West Chester opened up an 8-3 lead with just 15 minutes remaining in the game, before Lock Haven made its run. The Haven outscored the Rams, 5-1, down the stretch. However, West Chester came up with a stop with 18 seconds left when Berger’s attempt went wide, and the Rams’ defense beat The Haven to the back line to win the possession.
O’Keefe saved one of her best performances for the postseason, making four saves, and limiting Lock Haven to just three goals in 45 minutes of play.
“Every save pumps up our team,” O’Keefe said. “I will sacrifice any part of my body to make sure that ball doesn’t go in. Our defense played phenomenal. Everybody came together. We were talking out there all day.”
Seniors Claire Grimwood and Jackie Hoover each made sure their careers would not end with a pair of goals. Junior Erin Oczkowski also notched a pair as well. Sophomore attacker Tori Dugan finished with three points (1G, 2A). But, her four draw controls may have been the most telling statistic.
Nicole Pyle and Shannon Hayes each scored as well. Hayes added an assist to finish with two points. Devon Lotkowski registered an assist in the game.
Berger led Lock Haven with four points (1G, 3A), but did not have any points in the first 45 minutes of the game. Jessica Pandolf and Jamie Uzialko each scored a pair of goals for The Haven, and Heather Sacko made seven saves in the cage.