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West Chester University women go for gold in Seattle tonight

The Golden Rams take on Western Washington at 6 p.m. eastern

NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championship Photo by Doug Stroud/NCAA Photos via Getty Images Photos via Getty Images/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

West Chester University’s women’s soccer team has a chance to make history tonight in Seattle.

To do so, they’ll need to beat a Western Washington team that will be playing about 2,700 miles closer to their campus than the Golden Rams.

It’s West Chester’s first appearance in a national final and the third for Western Washington, which fell to Grand Valley State in the 2019 final after beating them in the 2016 final.

A win tonight — the game kicks off at 6 p.m. — would be the first national title in soccer for the university since the men’s team won the NCAA title in 1961. That was back before the NCAA was split into divisions. The university has won a total of 11 national team titles, most recently the field hockey team in 2019.

West Chester also has a chance to finish the season unbeaten. They enter the game with a 23-0-1 record. Their one blemish on the season was a 1-1 draw with conference rival East Stroudsburg on Oct. 29.

The Rams advanced to the final with a 2-1 win over Ferris State on Thursday night. Grad transfer Maggie Lena’s late goal off an assist from sophomore Kaitlynn Haughey broke a 1-1 tie. Leading goal-scorer Jacqueline Hug, a West Chester native, opened the scoring with her 10th of the season.

Five of the starters in the semifinal were first — Jenna Fox, Faith Matter and Jacqueline Graham — or second-year players — Haughey and Alyson Cutter. The starting lineup also features three first-team All-Americans: senior goalkeeper Hayley McGee and junior defender Kiley Kergides. Haughey and Matter were second team All-Americans.

Head coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley has helmed the program since 2007 and has led the team to NCAA tournament appearances every season of her tenure while amassing 238 wins. Her husband, Ed Townsley, played for the men’s team and is a former head coach and assistant of the team, which was founded by former men’s head coach Kendall Walkes in 1992.

A national title win would be the first for a PSAC team since the Lock Haven men’s team won the title in 1980. It would be the first college national title for a soccer team in Delaware Valley since Stockton won the Division III men’s title in 2001 and the first women’s team from the Delaware Valley since The College of New Jersey won the Division III women’s title in 2000.

The NCAA Division II women’s final will be streamed live on the NCAA website. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. eastern.