It will be a rematch of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday when West Chester University visits #1 IUP in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
The Golden Rams got here by going to Shippensburg in the first round and picking up an impressive 27-6 victory
“The fact that we were a little bit surprised that we got in [the playoff field], I think our kids really got fired up about that,” West Chester head coach Bill Zwaan tells KYW Newsradio. “Practiced really well all week, went into the game with really good focus and we did a really good job against them. Ship’s a good team. They’ve got two losses now and both of them are to us and both on their field. So our guys have really stepped up when they had to. It’s probably one of the better playoff games we’ve had, one of the best games we’ve played pretty much all year.”
West Chester is now 9-3 and has advanced this far despite being hampered throughout the season with injuries to key players.
“What these guys have done so far has made me really feel good about this team,” Zwaan says. “Shoot, who knows, if we can pull something off this weekend I think that would probably be one of the bigger accomplishments since I’ve been here.”
In that PSAC title game two weeks ago, West Chester lost to IUP, 24-7. The Golden Rams finished with just 197 yards of offense in that one and turned the ball over four times. The victory improved the Crimson Hawks to 11-0 on the season.
“I think the one good thing that’s going to help us is we did just play them a couple weekends ago,” Zwaan says. “They are a great football team, they are the #1 team in the country. They’ve got very few weaknesses. We have to play our best football to beat them. But the fact that we played them, makes them real to our kids now. They [now know] the guy that they played against and they know what he is and how their matchup’s going to play out. So I think that makes us feel a little bit better going into the contest.”
IUP had a first-round bye.
The winner on Saturday will get the winner of Findlay and Assumption in the quarterfinals.
Saturday’s game will kick off at noon.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleonkyw.