A mere 66 seconds into overtime, West Chester women’s soccer team got the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory at Shippensburg University Saturday, improving to 8-0.

Perhaps one of the reasons the Golden Rams won their second overtime game of the season was because of the shape the players are in.

A year ago, West Chester season ended with a 2-1 overtime loss to East Stroudsburg in the first round of the NCAA Division II soccer tournament. It made them hungry for greater success.

“There is no better motivation than bailing out of a tournament like that,” said West Chester coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley. “That is the factor to motivate them to be driven to do much more than they typically do in the offseason.”

Actually, the Golden Rams' quest to be the best soccer players they could possibly be started earlier. Senior midfielder Scarlett Walsh, said Kempf Townsley, is a good example of a player who has taken it upon herself to get in better shape to succeed. And younger players have followed.

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“Scarlett came in her first two years and had a bad start,” Kempf Townsley said. “Second semester her sophomore year she changed her diet, her eating habits and everything she needed to do to make herself a better player in terms not just with soccer, but off the field as well. Right now her stamina on the field is by far the best I have ever seen.”

A loss to East Stroudsburg in last year's NCAA DII tournament is fueling the West Chester women's team.
West Chester Athletics
A loss to East Stroudsburg in last year's NCAA DII tournament is fueling the West Chester women's team.

Walsh leads the team with 10 points, scoring four goals and adding two assists. Senior Lexi Brown is second on the team with nine points on three goals and three assists. Walsh credits Kempf Townsley and the older players before her in helping her make the commitment to be a better player.

“I learned from [coach],” Walsh said. “She always believed in me and knew I could be a better soccer player. I looked within myself instead of putting blame and excuses on other people. I really tried to focus on the weaknesses she pointed out and I worked really hard in the offseason to make those weaknesses become my strengths."

“Now the younger players have taken what I have done and it has trickled down and we have gotten stronger and stronger because of leaders before me and myself, taking on Betty Ann’s tips on dieting and working hard," Walsh said. "She has been a big motivation for our healthy lifestyle.”

The Golden Rams have moved to No. 12 in the NSCAA coaches poll by playing as a team. Eleven players have scored at least one goal this season, including seven players who have scored at least two goals.

MORE: NSCAA DII Women's Soccer rankings

“Our team is playing really well,” Walsh said. “We have had a lot of people step up, and we are working together really well. You can see it in the results we are having.”

The results are getting more attention. West Chester jumped 11 spots in the last soccer poll.

“I think there is a special place for it,” Walsh said. “We don’t talk about it. At practice we really do focus on the problems within the team and we take it one game at a time. We are happy to be recognized as one of the top 25 teams, but we are really focused on the team’s problems and addressing our issues instead of focusing on what other people think about us. We are trying to be the best team we can be.”

Northwest Missouri in Division II volleyball poll first time in school history

A year ago, Northwest Missouri State volleyball team finished 15-14. It was the Bearcats’ first winning season since 2000. Nice, but returning seniors Miranda Foster and Jackie Becker wanted more. And with the return of sophomore Maddy Bruder, who made first-team All-MIAA as a freshman, the Bearcats knew they could accomplish more if they put in the work during the summer in preparation for the 2016 season.

At the start of last week, Northwest Missouri entered the AVCA coaches top 25 for the first time in school history at No. 22. The Bearcats backed up that ranking by winning three matches last week, improving to 14-0.

Northwest Missouri State's volleyball team is celebrating the school's first ranking in the Top 25 poll.
Northwest Missouri State Athletics
Northwest Missouri State's volleyball team is celebrating the school's first ranking in the Top 25 poll.

“This is Jackie and my dream,” Foster said. “We have talked about it. Coming in, we knew we had some work to do. The team our freshman year was not the team we wanted when we leave. We talk about leaving a legacy, not for ourselves, but for the program. It has been so amazing to see that come true. It is a great experience. I am glad we were kind of able to lead this team into this position. It shows what we are capable of, and what we can do each and every year with the people coach Amy Woerth brings in. I know that for a fact.”

Bruder is an example of the type of talented players Woerth is now attracting to the program. Bruder is following her stellar freshman season with a team-leading 204 kills in 14 matches. She credits Woerth for instilling the team with resiliency and discipline.

“I am really excited to see what the future holds,” Bruder said. “We still have a lot more to work on.”

Woerth credits the players for their willingness to put in the work on their time during the summer.

“It makes me feel so proud for the girls,” Woerth said. “It is really about them. They have put so much hard work into it.  For them to continue to believe in us and believe in themselves and put the full commitment in the summer was a huge thing. It has been special for everyone because of that.”

Drury men’s soccer off to a special start to its season

A coaching milestone victory is always a bit sweeter when a coach has a group of players who have made the commitment to succeed.

Only Drury coach Ryan Swan knows what he felt in his heart when the Panthers scored a goal late in the game at Truman State Friday for the team’s second straight 3-2 victory. It was Swan’s 100th career win. Drury also improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Panthers have already matched last season’s victory total when they went 7-9-2 in 2015.

Ryan Swan, the coach of the Drury University men's soccer team, won his 100th game on Friday.
Drury Athletics
Ryan Swan, the coach of the Drury University men's soccer team, won his 100th game on Friday.
“We had a really good spring in identifying what the problems were last fall,” Swan said. “We lost a big class the year before in 2014. Last year we were missing a little bit of leadership. We restarted with the team culture and what the expectations are. The guys addressed it in the spring and carried it over in the fall.”

Junior forward Ben Bruce is one of the players who has helped Drury get back to its winning ways. Bruce was a freshman in 2014 when the Panthers went 16-5.

“Last year was really disappointing,” Bruce said. “We had a good squad that wasn’t clicking on the field. A lot of the returners, especially the seniors, were determined this season to do really well. Everyone came in really fit. It has paid off definitely.”

A balanced scoring attack is one reason why Drury has started the season well. Bruce and sophomore Antoine Vial each have five goals. Junior Charles Guelly has four and senior David Cross has three.

“Our offensive style has been incredible this season,” Bruce said. “Last year we had the chances and just didn’t finish them off. Our offense is a step up this season. We know we are going to score.”

Football upset of the week: Emporia State wins at No. 13 Central Missouri in double overtime

Unranked Emporia State was in a desperate situation at No. 13 Central Missouri late in the fourth quarter. Emporia State trailed 21-17 and was trying to stop Central Missouri from punching the ball in from the 4-yard line for another touchdown with 3 minutes left. 

An interception by Kole Schankie and his return to the 49-yard line with 2:46 left, set up the Hornets go-ahead touchdown. Central Missouri tied the game at 24-24 on a 34-yard field goal with 7 seconds left.

Both teams scored a touchdown in the first overtime. In the second overtime, Emporia State stopped the Mules on an interception by MJ Mathis. A minute later, Emporia State won the game 37-31 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Marstall Braxton to Mitchell Foote. It was the first time Emporia State has won at Central Missouri since 1998.