Another shot at history – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

For years, the Point Park women’s soccer and volleyball teams just haven’t been able to get over the hump.

Year after year the women’s soccer team fell short in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Tournament, failing to get that one key victory.

2012: Lost 1-0 at Carlow in the KIAC Tournament Finals

2013: Lost 2-1 at Asbury in the KIAC Tournament Finals

2014: Lost 3-2 at Asbury in the KIAC Tournament Semifinals

Last year the Pioneers got over that hump and finally took home that coveted piece of hardware, winning the KIAC Championship with a 1-0 takedown of West Virginia Tech at Highmark Stadium.

Point Park had a chance to defend its title Saturday at Ohio Christian University. This time, the team sought out a Rivers States Conference (RSC) title (the conference underwent a name change over the summer).

Like we saw all too often this year, Point Park went into the locker room with a scoreless tie and scored late goals to seal its victory.

Now, that one key victory doesn’t seem like it’s too much to ask for. Now, it’s time to make more history.

Before last year, it was all about winning the first conference championship in program history. Now that Point Park has won back-to-back titles, the focus shifts to the opening round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament.

Point Park lost in its first NAIA Tournament appearance last year 5-0 at No. 1 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.). It was a tough draw, and this year’s draw doesn’t make the journey any easier.

Point Park will travel once again to Lindsey Wilson, this time the NAIA’s No. 2 team, on Nov. 19 with the hopes of winning its first NAIA Tournament game in program history.

Lindsey Wilson returns to the NAIA Tournament for the 16th-straight year and holds the longest active streak of appearances in the championships.  The Mid-South Conference tournament champion posted a 15-3 regular season record and is 40-14-2 all-time in the National Tournament.

Winning a game on the national stage is the new hump Point Park has to get over, and this hump is far greater than winning the RSC Tournament.

Point Park has allowed just two goals in its last 450 minutes of soccer. Its defense has really locked down as of late and has lightened the load for freshman goalkeeper Rebecca Cohen, who has been stellar in net this year.

It’s a dangerous team that got off to a rough 0-5-1 start that now has a chance to make even more program history.

The volleyball team started the season 1-10, but finally got it together at the start of conference play. Point Park won the regular season RSC title with a 15-1 conference record and fell in the first round of the RSC Tournament in five sets to Cincinnati Christian.

The volleyball team has its own hump to get over.

Point Park is returning to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round for the fourth time in six years and the third straight year.

The Pioneers have never won a game in the National Tournament.

2011: Lost 3-1 at Indiana Tech

2014: Lost 3-1 at No. 15 Georgetown (Ky.)

2015: Lost 3-0 at No. 12 Georgetown

Point Park will get another chance to win a game at nationals this weekend on Nov. 19 when it travels to Madonna (Mich.) which drew the ninth-and-final at-large selection for the tournament.

Madonna is making its 16th all-time appearance in the tournament after posting a 30-7 regular season record. The Crusaders have a 35-31 all-time record in the tournament.

Point Park is one of nine teams in this year’s field making a return appearance to the tournament without a victory at the big dance. RSC Tournament Champion Indiana University Kokomo is one of the other eight schools in that field, losing in its first Opening Round appearance last year.

They say the fourth time is the charm, right? No? Well let’s start saying it now, because this very well could be the year Point Park hangs around beyond the first match of the tournament.

The Pioneers have RSC Player of the Year Shiloh Simonson and a great supporting cast of players that have really gelled together in recent weeks. Led by RSC Coach of the Year Mike Bruno, the Pioneers could make program history this weekend if they bring their very best.

One way or the other, we’ll log another section of the Point Park sports history books Saturday.