WCU stays perfect with dramatic win
Freshman Bail finds the net with 45 seconds left in battle of nationally-ranked squads
EAST BRADFORD >> It was almost like the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) could see into the future.
Midway through Tuesday’s PSAC afternoon showdown at Rockwell Field between East Stroudsburg and host West Chester, the NSCAA released its weekly Division II women’s poll, which moved the Golden Rams up six spots to No. 5, and the Warriors down eight spots to No. 11. About an hour later, WCU scored a goal in the final minute of regulation to break a scoreless battle and help the Rams remain unbeaten with a 1-0 win.
“This team’s chemistry is the best I’ve seen it in my four years of playing,” said senior defender Carly Henry.
“This gang just wants to learn and to work. It started a year or two ago with this group of players,” added West Chester head coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley. “We were fortunate enough to get away
for a week in the preseason and that created a lot of camaraderie and team bonding. And really feel that it’s been important to the success of this team.”
Deadlocked in a scoreless draw, WCU had four prime scoring chances in the final 15 minutes, but was unable to find the back of the net until freshman Jenny Bail took a pass from sophomore Carmen Telesco, who had corralled a nice entry pass from senior Scarlett Walsh, and deposited it behind ESU keeper Jules Harris. The game-winner came with just 45 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We had a ton of scoring opportunities and it didn’t happen, but we all did not want to go to overtime,” said Bail, a midfielder from Carlisle.
“I remember seeing Scarlett send a perfect ball to Carmen. We practice through balls through the defenders all the time, so it was just kind of instinct. I knew how Carmen was going to play it. Luckily I was there and slotted it in.”
It was the fourth goal of the season for Bail, who has acquired the nickname Jenny “Limbs” along the way from her teammates.
“We call her that because she is so lanky — but she is also crazy good,” Henry explained.
Kempf Townsley noticed midway through the second half that Bail, Telesco and senior Kara Parvel were working well together. So she gave the trio a break and then brought them in for a push in the final 10 minutes.
“I had to get them out to give them a break, but I thought they were gelling, so with 10 minutes to go I put them back in,” she explained.
“Jenny Bail is playing phenomenal as a freshman. She knows how to handle her body, take balls away from opposing players and she is calm under pressure. Carmen’s energy is phenomenal, and the execution of getting that ball to Jenny was incredible.”
Now 12-0 in the conference and overall, the Rams are closing in on a regular season title, which would also secure home field advantage throughout the PSAC playoffs. West Chester has four more conference games, but it looks like the last major hurdle is a Saturday clash with Slippery Rock (7-2-1). East Stroudsburg falls to 10-1-1.
“I don’t like to talk about where we’re ranked, but if we want to host postseason games, this was a huge win for us,” Kempf Townsley said.
“I think our chemistry is awesome,” Bails added. “As a freshman, when I joined the team I automatically felt included. All of the upperclassmen have been great role models.”
Already off to the best start of her 10-year reign as head coach, Kempf Townsley and her Rams win primarily with a suffocating defense that has allowed just four goals in a dozen outings. Tuesday was the 54th career win for senior goaltender Alex Srolis (Downingtown East), which equals the school record set by Hilary Smart (2005-08).
“We are very solid in the back end,” Kempf Townsley said. “Julia Kirkpatrick is just a sophomore, but the confidence she plays with is huge. Plus, Carly (Henry) and Alex (Srolis) are seniors, so they’ve been here
since they were freshman.”
When asked about the defense — which has now registered eight shutouts — Henry added: “It’s all about communication, and sometimes we don’t even have to talk, just give a look and know exactly what has to be done. We all bring something different and we have each other’s backs.”
This was a contest West Chester had marked on the calendar for many months. The Rams and the Warriors went 1-1-1 against each other in 2015, but ESU knocked WCU out of the PSAC Tournament on penalty kicks, and then out of the NCAAs in overtime.
“Ending on a sour note to (ESU) last year made this one even more important,” Henry said. “In the back end, we didn’t want to fool around with the ball. Our game plan was to get it out.”
It worked. The Rams wound up with a 17-8 edge in shots.
The late surge began when sophomore Nikki Zaso took a pass from Kirkpatrick and had a wide open net, but her contested shot sailed over the crossbar. It continued when Kaitlyn McFadden’s header just cleared the crossbar with about 10 minutes remaining, and continued with a shot just wide by Telesco with 1:29 on the clock.
“It was pretty obvious that it was going to take a lot of opportunities in order to get one by (Harris),” Kempf Townsley said.
East Stroudsburg didn’t have as many scoring chances, but did force Srolis to make a diving save midway through the second half, and Henry had to come up with a defensive save off a corner kick moments later, and then Srolis followed with a conventional save on the rebound.
West Chester University players celebrate with freshman Jenny Bail (right, leaning down) after her goal in the final minute secured a huge win over East Stroudsburg Tuesday afternoon at Rockwell Field.
West Chester University senior Haley Mangiaruga heads the ball in the second half as East Stroudsburg’s Danielle Cary defends Tuesday afternoon at Rockwell Field.