For the first time since 2004, West Chester will not be atop the table in women’s soccer.
After six consecutive division or conference regular season titles, the Golden Rams find themselves locked into the sixth seed in the PSAC women’s soccer tournament, set to begin next Tuesday.
Instead, California (Pa.), ranked fourth in the nation, has locked up the top spot with one of the most dominating team efforts in the PSAC since the 2006 West Chester squad won 23 consecutive matches en route to the NCAA Division II semifinals.
The Vulcans (14-0-2, 11-0-2 PSAC) are looking for the first undefeated PSAC season since the 2008 West Chester squad went 8-0-4 in the PSAC East; it would also be the first time a PSAC school other than West Chester would go undefeated in league play since the 2002 Lock Haven squad went 11-0.
Cal has allowed only five goals in 16 regular season matches so far. In 1,495 minutes of competition (13 regulation matches, two overtime matches ending in a draw and one overtime match ending with a golden goal), Cal has trailed only once – a 2:48 stretch late in the first half at Bloomsburg on Oct. 19; the Vulcans would win on a golden goal by Carley Work with 5:46 left in the second overtime.
Cal came within an aggregate total of 7:22 from having a perfect season. The two draws both occurred when the Vulcans were scored upon in the final 5 minutes of regulation.
Jen Hutchinson scored for West Chester with 4:14 left in regulation to give the Golden Rams a 1-1 draw at West Chester’s South Campus Soccer Complex on Sept. 20. The match marked the third consecutive draw between the Golden Rams and Vulcans dating back to the 2010 post-season.
Melissa Kornock’s goal with 3:08 left in regulation gave IUP a 2-2 draw with the Vulcans on Oct. 3. The Crimson Hawks goal came five minutes after Work was sent off on a red card, forcing the Vulcans to play one player short-handed.
It’s pretty fair to say that the Vulcans have a stranglehold on the top seed in this year’s tournament. It marks the first time since Kutztown won the PSAC East that West Chester has not
As for the rest of the field…
Kutztown (13-4, 10-3) has all but secured the second seed with one league match remaining at Mansfield on Saturday. The Golden Bears need a win against the Mountaineers (a likely scenario, as Mansfield is winless in PSAC play this season) to finish three points ahead of Edinboro, which has completed league play with a 10-4 mark (13-4 overall).
Regardless of the outcome at Mansfield, the Golden Bears, despite being tied with the Fighting Scots, would win a tie-breaker based on a 2-0 win on Sept. 23.
Yet, by the time everything is said and done, the Fighting Scots could finish no better than third, nor worse than fourth. Slippery Rock (12-3-2, 9-2-2) has a home match Saturday against Lock Haven. Indiana (Pa.) has the same point total as The Rock. However, the Crimson Hawks have completed their league schedule with a 9-3-2 record (11-3-2).
Even if The Rock falls to Lock Haven, they can finish no worse than fourth, since they own the tie-breaker with IUP by virtue of a 2-0 win on Oct. 11. The Rock can jump over Edinboro into the third seed with a win over Haven.
If Mansfield upsets Kutztown and Slippery Rock beats Lock Haven, then The Rock jumps to second, Kutztown takes the three seed, while Edinboro finishes fourth. A Rock draw with Lock Haven and a Kutztown loss forces a three-way tie for the second seed.
In a three-way tie-breaker, Kutztown takes the second seed, having beaten both Edinboro (2-0 on Sept. 20) and Slippery Rock (1-0 on Sept. 24) while The Rock takes the third seed by virtue of a 1-0 win over Edinboro. The Fighting Scots would secure the fourth seed.
There will be a quiz on this later, so be sure to study hard.
West Chester, with a 7-2-4 record in PSAC play (10-2-4) stands to finish sixth, their worst finish in the conference since 2002. The Golden Rams close out the season at home against Millersville on Saturday.
Gannon (8-4-4, 5-4-4) and Bloomsburg (8-7-1, 6-6-1) clinched the final two playoff berths after East Stroudsburg defeated Mercyhurst (7-8-1, 4-7-1) 3-0 at Eiler-Martin Stadium this evening. The loss officially eliminates the Lakers from post-season contention.
Gannon hosts Mercyhurst in the season finale in Downtown Erie on Saturday, while Bloomsburg hosts East Stroudsburg.
A Gannon win assures them the seventh seed, regardless of the outcome of the East Stroudsburg-Bloomsburg match. The Golden Knights would win the tie-breaker with Bloomsburg, despite an Oct. 5 scoreless draw at Bloomsburg, earning the higher seed based on the second tie-breaker: record against teams not involved in the tie, starting at the top of the table.
The Huskies lost to each of the top six teams in the table, while Gannon sports a 2-1 win over Edinboro on Sept. 14 and a 1-1 tie at West Chester on Oct. 15.
A Bloomsburg win over East Stroudsburg and a Gannon loss or tie to Mercyhurst gives the Huskies the seventh seed and the Golden Knights the eighth seed.
It would be fair to say that even with all eight spots now clinched, the jockeying for positioning will stretch to the last game of the season. By the time the sun sets on Saturday, the playoff picture will be clear.