By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the first time since 2008, West Chester University has qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament and the Golden Rams will open things up at home on Saturday, hosting American International College.
The Golden Rams wrapped up the regular season this past weekend with a 41-14 victory over Clarion. The win improved West Chester to 10-1.
“After our loss to Bloomsburg a couple of weeks ago, we knew we had to win this past weekend against Clarion,” West Chester head coach Bill Zwaan tells KYW Newsradio. “Our kids fought their way back, got themselves in the playoffs. Gives us a whole new life and a whole new season to go after and I think they are pretty excited about it.”
The Golden Rams fine regular season put them in position to host this first-round match-up at John A. Farrell Stadium.
“It’s huge (playing at home),” Zwaan says. “When you are in the playoffs, playing at home is really big. Playing before your home crowd, not having to travel. Its definitely an advantage playing at home in the playoffs, that’s for sure.”
American International College is 9-2, they are the champions of the Northeast-10.
“AIC won their championship last week by beating Stonehill,” Zwaan says. “A bunch of good athletes, pretty big team, they are going to be a big team up front, both o-line and d-line. And they’ve got pretty good athletes at their skill positions. Their quarterback (Kevin Arduino) really makes them go. He throws the ball and runs the ball, he is a dual threat kid. We’ve got to try and put a stop to him as best we can.”
Arduino, a junior, has thrown for 2374 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 942 additional yards and 20 more scores.
West Chester has been led all season long by senior running back Rondell White. He has rushed for 1,626 yards and 19 touchdowns, while catching a team high 56 passes for 660 yards and two scores.
These teams have a couple of games against common opponents this season. They both beat New Haven (WCU won 45-14 while AIC captured a 43-34 decision), and while West Chester beat East Stroudsburg (34-20), the Yellow Jackets lost to them (21-14).
The winner of this game will travel to Bloomsburg for a second round match-up a week from Saturday.
Saturday’s game will kick-off at noon.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.