Point Park Globe

Stacked RSC presents men’s soccer with familiar hurdles

Written By Dara Collins, Co-Sports Editor

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The 2016 men’s soccer season was cut short when Midway scored a heartbreaking last second goal to win 1-0 in the River States Conference (RSC) quarterfinal. The Pioneers failed to make the conference semifinals for the first year since 2010, but they maintained a winning season for the sixth-straight year.The men now strive for lucky number seven.

The men now strive for lucky number seven.The 2017 Pioneers enter arguably one of the toughest soccer conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The 2017 Pioneers enter arguably one of the toughest soccer conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Rio Grande won the national championship in 2015 and was the runner-up in 2016. West Virginia University (WVU) Tech finished last season ranked sixth in the nation and received a national tournament bid.Senior second-year captain Josh Williams agrees the two RSC teams will be their toughest competition.

Senior second-year captain Josh Williams agrees the two RSC teams will be their toughest competition. Rio Grande traditionally poses a problem to Point Park, and WVU Tech fields a strong team, according to Williams.

“Everyone sort of realizes we’re not just here to have fun and play soccer,” Williams said. “We want to win games.”The program’s all-time winningest head coach, Jeroen Walstra told PointParkSports.com the 2017 recruiting class is “one of the most promising ever.”

The program’s all-time winningest head coach, Jeroen Walstra told PointParkSports.com the 2017 recruiting class is “one of the most promising ever.”

“I’ve been really impressed with them all,” Williams said. “They’ve all applied themselves and tried making themselves a part of the team.”15 new players join the Pioneers from eight different countries. San Diego Mesa College transfer Ryan Daniels was named the 2015 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year.

15 new players join the Pioneers from eight different countries. San Diego Mesa College transfer Ryan Daniels was named the 2015 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year.Other recruits include goalkeeper Juan Somoza and defender/midfielder Yuki Takeda who transferred from Campbellsville (Ky.) University. Netherlands-native Wessel Rietveld has a “fantastic left foot on him,” according to striker Roberto Whitley.

Other recruits include goalkeeper Juan Somoza and defender/midfielder Yuki Takeda who transferred from Campbellsville (Ky.) University. Netherlands-native Wessel Rietveld has a “fantastic left foot on him,” according to striker Roberto Whitley.Eight of the 11 starters from the 2016 squad return for the new season including senior forward Alan Ramos and Whitley. Ramos led the team in scoring for the second straight year while Whitley followed with six goals. Four of the top five goal scorers for Point Park return this season.

Eight of the 11 starters from the 2016 squad return for the new season including senior forward Alan Ramos and Whitley. Ramos led the team in scoring for the second straight year while Whitley followed with six goals. Four of the top five goal scorers for Point Park return this season.“I think some of the players that we had last year are better this year and then again we have some new blood in there too so that’s a good thing,” Walstra said.

“I think some of the players that we had last year are better this year and then again we have some new blood in there too so that’s a good thing,” Walstra said.The lack of depth in the 2016 squad has since been recovered with the newcomers and veterans, according to Williams.

The lack of depth in the 2016 squad has since been recovered with the newcomers and veterans, according to Williams.

Whitley agrees the season looks promising.

“It’s definitely better than where we were last year,” Whitley said. “We lost two players last year, and we’ve gained five good players so we’re in a better position. All the players that played last year as well, we all play better together now because we’ve got a year together, too.”

Although eligibility may be an issue for some players at the start of the season, Walstra hopes to peak in October.

The crew played an exhibition game Aug. 22 at Allegheny College and tied 2-2. A second scrimmage on Aug. 27 ended in a 2-0 victory for the Pioneers over the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans.

Point Park plays the regular season opener against Florida National University Wednesday at home. RSC play begins Sept. 28 at Asbury. Fans can catch the Pioneers at home field Highmark Stadium for five of the first six games.

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