Seeking to recover from a 5-0 loss at the hands of Mercyhurst, the SRU men’s soccer team hosted a formidable challenge in the Golden Rams of West Chester University, ranked twelfth in the country. Prior to the team’s final home game of the 2017 season, five players were recognized for Senior Day.
The only team in the PSAC having yet to suffer a league loss, the Golden Rams entered the contest 11-2-1 overall and at the conference’s helm. The Rock put up a fantastic fight for the entirety of the game, but a late West Chester score handed the team its fourth loss in five games.
Junior midfielder George Oakley posted the game’s first shot on goal in the 3rd minute, which was turned aside by WCU senior goalie Matt Palmer. The Rock’s next shot came when Tyler McCarthy, SRU’s leading goal-scorer, sailed a shot over the net in the 17th minute.
Seven minutes into the second period and the game still scoreless, a foul in the box resulted in an awarded penalty kick for the Golden Rams’ Brett Glasco. Tied for his team’s lead in scoring, the senior midfielder tried to fire the ball into the net’s bottom right corner, however, the kick was stabbed by Sharp. Late in the period, with each team having yet to net a goal, Slippery Rock defender Patrick Sullivan, a redshirt senior, was given a red card following a collision with a WCU player.
In the 87th minute, with a draw in sight for the shorthanded SRU team, a Golden Rams’ junior midfielder, Kyle Hoops took the advantage by heading a corner kick past Sharp. The Rock could only manufacture one more opportunity in the remainder of the game.
The late win improved West Chester’s conference record to a perfect 10-0-0 and dropped Slippery Rock’s to an unimpressive 3-5-2.
“That’s the best team in the conference. They’re undefeated in the conference for a reason,” Slippery Rock head coach Steve Small said. “But, we hung in there with them and showed what we’re capable of and, at the end of the day, I couldn’t be any more proud of what the guys did today.”
Though disappointed in the outcome, Small was pleased with his team’s level of play against such a powerful squad.
“I think it was probably our most complete performance we’ve put in this year […] Even going down a man, we still hung with them. We had our chances, we limited their chances,” he stated. “It’s unfortunate we gave up a goal with three minutes left. It’s a heartbreaker.”
The performance against such a powerful squad prompted optimism from the coach “From an underclassmen standpoint, they should have their heads up and they should be hungry […] [They] saw today what a PSAC game is all about. I think there’s a lot of positives to take away from this game as we move forward.”
As for the seniors who he’s guided for his two seasons here and what they have meant to the team, Small said,” [The seniors did a fantastic job of bringing those young guys in and getting them up to speed on what it takes to play at this level and compete […] I can’t thank them enough for all their efforts from start to finish.”
This loss dropped the Rock to 4-9-3 on the season.