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West Chester women have national title in their sights in Seattle

The Golden Rams are in the national semifinal for the second time in program history

West Chester University Athletics

West Chester University’s women’s soccer team has put together a dream season posting a 22-0-1 record, but the dream is far from over.

Tonight they’ll take on Ferris State at 8 p.m. eastern time at Seattle Pacific University with a shot at advancing to what would be the program’s first national final.

“It’s a dream come true for all of us,” said junior defender Kiley Kergides, who on Thursday was named a first-team All American. “As a little girl you always dream of making it to a national championship. To be on the big stage like this is really amazing and surreal.”

Kergides, a Germantown Academy grad from Rydal, Pa., and her teammates were barely old enough for preschool the last time a West Chester women’s team made it this far. That team took Metro State to two overtimes in a semifinal loss in Pensacola in 2006.

Head coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley took over the program the season after that run to the national semifinal, but her connection to the program dates back even further through her husband, Ed Townsley, a men’s soccer alum who was the women’s head coach in 1997-1998 and a men’s and women’s assistant before that.

“It means a lot more to me than just personally and my own journey through soccer because it’s emotions my husband has there,” Kempf Townsley said. “Not only that, it’s all the women before that established a foundation at West Chester. I think this is just a culmination of the success and all the years of players that have played here.”

Ahead of tonight’s game, Kempf Townsley is showing a video alumni of the program put together to emphasize how much it means not only to the current team but those who have come before. The program was started in 1992 by then men’s head coach Kendall Walkes and it has found similar success as the men. They have five PSAC titles and seven Atlantic Region titles to their name and a roster - not unlike the men’s team that made the national final in 2018 - filled with local talent.

“It’s a really cool experience to play with people who I’ve played against and for us to all connect so well with each other,” Kergides said. “It’s awesome to represent West Chester, the university and Philadelphia. Not everyone gets to experience this.”

After a long travel day on Tuesday, the team participated in a community service project and had a chance to see the facility at Seattle Pacific where they’ll be playing. The road trip and the time change is all part of the adjustment of playing for a national title, one that this year has an added bonus of being an NCAA Division II festival, which is an event that brings all of the seasonal championships to one city. The last fall festival was in Pittsburgh the year the men’s team lost to Barry University in the final in 2018.

The women’s team has a chance for a little bit of redemption for the university but either way their season has been an impressive one both on and off the field. The team was recognized on Wednesday with the Elite 90 award for highest team GPA among the four finalists.

“All of our players are phenomenal student athletes,” Kempf Townsley said. “So there’s a lot more to these girls than just playing soccer.”

While there will be plenty of pressure in maintaining the zero in their record for two more games, Kergides and her teammates are trying their best to keep things light.

“I’m looking forward to getting a win and just having fun out there with my teammates for one more game,” she said. “Just to experience this is something really special and the most important thing is to have fun.”

The national semifinal game kicks off at 8 p.m. and is being streamed live on the NCAA website.