A rough finish to a rough season – Croup’s Corner

Freshman midfielder, Nathanael Van Der Walt, gains possession of the ball with a Washington Adventist defenceman on his heels during their match on October 26. The Pioneers won, 3-0.

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

It was a season of heartbreaking losses.

It was a team that deserved better than its 9-8-1 regular season overall record and 3-5 River States Conference (RSC) record.

It was a finish that was just as crushing as its regular season. And man, was it a gut-wrenching finish.

The men’s soccer team saw its season come to an end Saturday when it looked like the Pioneers were about to fight in another overtime contest.

They were literally seconds away from forcing overtime. Two seconds to be exact.

Head coach Jeroen Walstra called it “one of the best goals I have seen in college soccer in quite some time.”

It was a line drive laser; a one-timer from Midway’s Joe Jessop that sent the Pioneers home. His sixth goal of the season came from 30 yards out and went past the Pioneers’ freshman goalkeeper Manuel Pajzer.

It was his fifth goal in four games and only the fourth shot on goal of the game for Midway.

It was the second 1-0 loss against Midway in 2016 for the Pioneers, this one more crushing than the last.

Point Park dropped five regular season conference games, three of which came in overtime. The other two came against now-top 10 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) teams.

Rio Grande, the defending national champions and the current No. 3 team in the country, defeated the Pioneers 5-0 in the regular season. West Virginia Tech, the now-No. 10 team in the NAIA, scored twice in the final 12 minutes to rally past the Pioneers for a 2-1 victory.

The other three losses all came in overtime against Asbury (3-2, Sept. 29), Midway (1-0, Oct. 6) and Brescia (2-1, Oct. 8).

It was a large case of bad luck and misfortune. Red cards forced some of the team’s top players to sit out in key games. Offensive droughts kept the team off the scoreboard at times. Lucky goals from opponents put the Pioneers on the wrong end of one-goal losses.

It was a season full of disappointing twists and turns, and its ending was all too fitting.

A pair of 1-0 losses against Midway, including Saturday’s playoff loss, contributed to Point Park’s 4-5 record in one-goal games this year.

This was a team that deserved better. Its record doesn’t reflect the talent on the squad. Defender Paul Carr earned first-team all-conference honors, while Pajzer and forward Alan Ramos both earned second-team honors.

That’s three of the best players in the conference. They played along a host of supporting cast members that could have been in the all-conference conversation. It just wasn’t meant to be.

It was going to be tough from the start with two of the top teams in the conference ahead of them. We knew that going into the season.

But did the soccer gods need to be this tough? Three conference overtime losses, five total one-goal losses and a SportsCenter-worthy game winner with two seconds left on the clock to end their season. It just wasn’t meant to be, I suppose.

As the Chicago Cubs did for 108 seasons, it’s time to look ahead to next year.

Point Park will lose Carr and fellow senior Troy Dolanch, but keep much of its core, including its goalkeeper who will enter his sophomore season and leading scorer who will return for his senior year.

It always seems like an uphill battle for this club. Next year probably won’t be any different, but the team has a strong group returning that has experienced all of the highs and lows necessary to build a strong team.

In sports and in life, one has to experience the lowest of lows to appreciate the highest of highs.

But hey, even the Cubs eventually won. There’s always next year.