After 665 days, soccer finally returns to West Chester University

After 665 days, soccer finally returns to West Chester University

The incredibly long wait for West Chester University’s return to Rockwell Field — further delayed by last week’s hurricane — finally came to an end on Wednesday when the men’s team played Wilmington University to a 1-1 draw at Rockwell Field.

The West Chester men’s soccer team had last taken the field at the campus venue for a competitive match on November 12, 2019, when they beat East Stroudsburg in the first round of the PSAC Tournament.

Their last game was when they lost in double overtime to Assumption in the NCAA Tournament in Erie, Pa. on November, 22, 2019.

“I don’t really know if I can describe it, I mean it’s what we live for,” West Chester University head coach Michael Benn said. “We want to compete, we want to be able to represent our university and to be able to finally get back out there and do that on our home field was a satisfying, rewarding, ecstatic feeling to say hey, we remember how to do this.”

The women’s team last played at Rockwell on November 6, 2019 when they played Bloomsburg to a scoreless draw. They’ll play their first home match of the 2021 season against East Stroudsburg on Wednesday.

The men’s team came out on Wednesday showing some of the rust from an unprecedented hiatus against a Wilmington team that had already played two matches to start the season. Much of the first half was spent in West Chester’s side of the field and the visitors grabbed a lead in the 24th minute on a goal from Marius Skattum Dahl.

“Our first half was poor,” Benn said. “And some of that was probably still rust; we had the hurricane cancel our opener and then our last scrimmage was the Saturday before that so it had been a good 10 days since we last played.”

Things improved in the second half and Kresstoph Whittick found an equalizer in the 86th minute off an assist from Doug Goitia. Two overtime periods couldn’t settle it so the local rivals split the point for the third time in their last four meetings.

While Benn was ecstatic to see his players back in a competitive environment again, Wednesday’s match was also a reminder of the five seniors who didn’t get a final send-off when the 2020 season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The five departures were Daniel Grindrod, Stephen Thompson, Vito Vincent, Jamison Burns and Cameron Peploe. Both Grindrod and Thompson started in the 2018 Division 2 national final against Barry University.

“I still ache for them that they weren’t able to get this,” Benn said.

West Chester will be back home at Rockwell next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. to open conference play in the second game of a double-header. The women’s game kicks off at 1.

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