The always-hectic PSAC soccer season got a little more interesting on Sept. 16. Despite a continued run of stout defense, the Lakers couldn’t prevent the West Chester Golden Rams from seizing two critical early-season wins at Mercyhurst’s soccer field. The Golden Rams’ men were able to contain reigning Player of the Week Fjodor van Kippersluis and scored two first-half goals to secure a 3-1 upset of Coach Nenad Vidakovic’s squad.
Later in the day, Mercyhurst women’s coach Keith Cammidge and his team saw a possession majority and 10 shots turn into a 1-0 loss. It was just 6:15 into the first contest when the Lakers’ defense failed to mark up on Andrew Slater as he grabbed a dribbler. He then beat Alex Brems bottom-left for his first of the season and only the third first-half goal allowed by the Lakers this campaign.
At the 13-minute mark, the Golden Rams were able to double their lead when Doug Goitia took advantage of an offensive turnover and caught a full-field breakaway. That proved to be the difference as the Golden Rams snapped the Lakers’ 12-game conference winning streak on Goitia’s second goal of the young campaign. The offensive issues continued throughout the contest, with the Lakers being outshot 9-4 on-goal despite outshooting the visitors 20-14 overall. The Rams’ fifth and final corner kick of the day saw Brett Miller find Tim French with 6:49 left in regulation for his first of the season.
French was called for a handball in the box 5:11 later, resulting in a penalty kick that saw Christopher Makengo beat Matt Palmer for his third of the season. It was the Golden Rams’ fourth booking of the second half after the Lakers were called for three in the first, the initial booking just two minutes after Goitia’s tally. As a result, the Lakers (3-2, 1-1) avoided their first regular-season shutout of the past 14 contests.
Meanwhile, the women’s preseason favorites got off to a slower start, but still prevented sophomore Vilde Wold from earning her first career win on 37 minutes. The Golden Rams’ Jenni Bail sent a corner to Kaitlynn McNamara before delivering a free kick into the penalty area in front of Wold and finding Linzi Wolfe for her first goal of the campaign. Despite this, the hosts outshot the Golden Rams (3-1-1, 3-1) on goal by a 4-3 margin and overall in the second half (7-6). In controlling the majority of the possession, the Lakers (0-2-2, 0-2-1) kept the Golden Rams to just five corner opportunities but only had two themselves.
On 59 minutes, the Lakers had arguably their best opportunity to force a third overtime on the young season. Anja Korte delivered a corner to MacKenzie Grenell, but the freshman clanked a crossbar. Wold was credited with two saves for the game, bringing her goals-against average on the young season to .900 and her save percentage to .733. The former statistic is good for seventh in the conference rank for Wolde in this category. Winning goaltender Brooke Myers made four saves and posted her third shutout of the season. Her goals-against avearage is now a PSAC-best .383, while her save percentage is second in the conference at .861. The victory in the men’s contest allowed the Golden Rams (3-1-1) to move into a tie atop the PSAC table with Lock Haven (4-1-1) on six points and a 2-0 conference record.
The Lakers return to action on Sept. 22 when both teams travel to Bloomsburg to face their next PSAC opponent, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. The next time the teams will be home will be on Sept. 24, against University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. The ball drops at 1 p.m. for the women and 3:30 for the men.