Wings were flaming hot for the Profs, as the team took on West Chester University for a playoff game this past Saturday. The Profs took a 9-13 loss, but that wasn’t before the team challenged the Golden Rams to take them seriously.
When the team set out for West Chester, PA, they understood quite well that the season rested in the outcome of this game. The team was revving to go, especially after their game against Villanova was cancelled at the last minute last weekend. So, the week they had left to practice became a vital commodity before they prepared themselves for West Chester. It wasn’t enough that the team was playing with a two-week gap since their last game though. No, they would also be playing against a team who they had lost to in the Beltway Bash, as well as in the semifinals last year.
This game was far from repeating history though. When the Profs marched onto the green and purple field of John A. Farrell Stadium, they weren’t about to let all of the talk get to them. The team still suited up nonetheless. When the game kicked off and West Chester scored a goal on Brian Mahoney within the first few minutes, the Profs needed to start playing a little faster. This motivation increased as Chester scored another two goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. Luckily, a sniped shot by Chris Deck in the first quarter helped keep the team’s head on straight. A little while after that, Pat Hall also whipped up the team’s second goal of the game.
“I just saw a chance to take a shot, no one slid to me, so I just went for it,” Hall said.
Unlike previous games against West Chester, this one wasn’t completely one-sided in terms of defense and offense. While West Chester pushed Rowan’s defense quite a deal, the Prof pushed back with stacked defensive-middies, like Hall. Nick Scardilli also put pressure, as did Steve Cupo, who worked extra shifts at long-stick middie. This is due to the fact that both Ryan Francisco and Mike Conroy were out for the game. Cupo didn’t have to run alone though, as George Sayre got to run a few shifts at LSM. Cupo said that Sayre’s efficiency with groundballs and stopping fast breaks stood out to him.
“Sayre was called upon and stepped up. He made big plays and was a huge asset the game,” Cupo said.
The Profs played smart in this game, using some of their hallmark strengths to not let West Chester get any further than three to four goals the entire game. One of these hallmark strengths, is the durability and quick-decision making skills of players like Billy Van Dyke, who trucked through multiple groundballs in this game. Van Dyke himself scored a decent whip of a goal through an assist from Gorzynski.
“Their middies and d-middies were always hungry for the ball, no matter what side of the field. I think if we looked at the states we would find ourselves out-groundballed by a significant amount,” Van Dyke said.
The second strength, was utilizing the reliable functionality of Ryan Gallagher’s righty-shot. Gallagher tallied three goals in this game, which would turn out to be the last of his college career. Yet, the Profs made use of Gallagher’s shots. Other attackmen like Gorzynski and Soravilla also made moves as useful feeders at X and top. Other goals came from Alex Chalef, as well as Grozynski, who scored a hooking goal off of an assist from Soravilla.
“On offense, we were able to find the back of the net quickly and efficiently. I think the chemistry of the offense was at the highest level it has been all year, and we were able to find the open guy cutting to space and most importantly, finish,” Van Dyke said.
The further the game went, the more West Chester felt Rowan quickly catching back up. By halftime, the Profs were down by three. Every time the Rams scored a goal though, the Profs came right back to match them, until the Rams decided it would be ideal to put their starters in during the fourth quarter. This is the third strength that the Profs have been able to build upon, their ability to force teams to stop talking and start playing. Stacking a few goals on West Chester made the game differ in comparison to last year’s semifinal game. Last year, the team suffered an 11-6 loss to West Chester, with many of the goals then being products of rushed gameplay. This year, the offense was much more controlled and much more graceful. The team also had a couple of hiccups with substitutions last year, with many awkward transitions that made the game a hard way to end a season. This year’s game was much more refined. The team was more cohesive as well.
The 9-11 score was a hard loss, but throughout the game, the team never failed to show its fourth and most crucial hallmark strength. This is the ability to be a functional unit of close-knit players. No matter the score, the Profs entered the field as a team and left it as a team. Just as they entered the spring season as a team, and now leave it as a team.