Nov. 19, 2010

Courtesy of West Chester Athletics

For the second time in 14 days, 110 minutes of soccer was not enough to decide a contest between West Chester University and California (Pa.). And for the second time in 14 days, West Chester claimed a championship as a result of a penalty kick shootout at the expense of Cal.

Fourth-ranked West Chester (18-1-3) came out on top, 5-4, in the shootout against 10th-ranked Cal (18-1-4) to capture its fourth regional championship in the past six years and advance to the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals on a chilly, overcast Friday afternoon at South Campus Field. The two teams played to a 1-1 tie through regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime periods.

West Chester advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals and will face top-ranked College of Saint Rose (23-0-0), who defeated C.W. Post, 1-0, in the East Region final, on Sunday at 12 p.m. at South Campus Field.

We are very excited to be in this position,” West Chester head coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley said afterwards. I thought we played with a lot of strength and character throughout this game. Our leadership showed through when we were down a goal and did not give up.

Cal opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Sara Di Benedetto finished off a cross from Bethany Smyda, putting the shot just under the cross bar. Smyda beat her defender along the end line and fed a wide open Di Benedetto for the 1-0 lead.

I told the girls at halftime that we have been down before,” Kempf Townsley explained. Youve been here before, I told them. That just lends itself to the senior leadership on this team.”

That is the way the first half ended. However, West Chester responded to Kempf Townsleys halftime speech by coming out and taking it to the Vulcans in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The Golden Rams relentless pressure finally broke down Cals defense in the 54th minute.

Devon Swaim corralled a ball near the end line just to the left of Cals goal and lofted a cross into the middle at about the six-yard line where Sarah Oswald headed in her team-leading 18th goal of the year to tie the score at 1-1. With that goal, Oswald tied former West Chester forward Julie Karcher for second on the schools all-time scoring list with 150 career points.

The rest was up to sophomore goalkeeper Lyndsie Bernardini, who made five saves in regulation and overtime to help force the penalty kick shootout. Bernardini once again shined on the biggest stage a soccer goalkeeper can face, outdueling Cals Paula Jackson, with whom she shared first team all-league honors in the conference.

After the five rounds of kicks, the score was knotted at 4-apiece. Cals Tonya Fabian stepped to the dot and rang her attempt off the right post. West Chester freshman Paige Maloney, who had not played all day, calmly stepped up and buried her game-winning shot past a diving Jackson.