Tough Competition Worth It – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

The women’s soccer team had a difficult non-conference schedule this season that has prepared them for conference play.

Point Park is 6-3-1 overall and 3 0 in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC). All three of its losses came against then-top 25 ranked National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) teams.

The first of those losses came at home against No. 25 Mount Vernon Nazarene. Point Park was tied with the fast and talented Cougar team at the half. Mt. Vernon had 19 shots opposed to Point Park’s 10 at the end of the game and came away with a 2-0 win with goals in the 63rd and 72nd minute. It is the only loss Point Park suffered at home.

Exactly one week later, Point Park traveled to Siena Heights (Mich.) to face the No. 18 team in the country. Again, the Pioneers were outshot 17-6 and fell 2-0 to Siena Heights.

The following Monday, Point Park was in Spring Arbor (Mich.) for an even tougher test against the No. 8 team in NAIA. Point Park only managed to get four shots off and faced 27 from the Spring Arbor Cougars. Spring Arbor led 4-0 at halftime and sent Point Park home with a 6-0 defeat.

Since then, the Pioneers have not lost.

Not only have they not lost since; they have not allowed a goal since.

The Pioneers defeated Geneva on their home turf 3-0 before returning home last Wednesday night for their second conference match of the year against a youthful Brescia (Ky.) squad. Point Park entered 3-0 in the all time series, shutting out the Bearcats in each match.

Nothing changed that cool, overcast Wednesday night at Highmark Stadium, which also hosts high school football games on Friday nights. Point Park did not get the memo that it was soccer and not football. They put up a touchdown on Brescia, shutting out the Bearcats 7-0.

Before the match, they had scored 11 goals over the course of the season’s first eight games. It was the first time since Sept. 2012 that the Pioneers scored seven goals.

Senior forward Leeza Tokarski said the tough matches benefit the team in the long run.

“When we were playing those teams, we were really frustrated. It lessened our confidence,” Tokarski said. “And now, it’s definitely worked in our favor. Now when we’ve played those harder teams, we know how to approach weaker teams and finish them off.”

Fellow senior midfielder Jillian Evilsizer said after the win that her team used the tough non-conference matches to speed up their play. She said they were able to relax against Brescia.

“It gives everybody a chance to have some fun,” Evilsizer said. “These are games [we] really enjoy because it gives everyone a chance to play soccer. Everyone just can play.”

They are relaxed and having fun now after a tough start to the season.

Point Park added another shutout conference victory to their 2015 resume Saturday with a 2-0 win at Cincinnati Christian.

After a pair of non-conference home games, Point Park continues conference play Saturday, Oct. 17 against Rio Grande, the defending conference tournament champions and preseason favorite to win the KIAC.