Croup’s Corner – Confidence entering conference play

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

The first two games for the men’s soccer team weren’t pretty.

The Pioneers had a tough first two games, to be fair. The season-opener against Florida National University ended in a 4-0 defeat. The Conquistadors still haven’t lost a game this year and haven’t allowed a goal since playing the Cayman Island U-23 National Team a few days before traveling to Pittsburgh.

They were just better. Much better. What a way to start your season.

Point Park next dropped a 7-1 home contest against Lawrence Tech. Lawrence Tech entered the game without allowing a goal in its first two games and has only lost two games since, both by one goal.

They were solid teams all around and really put Point Park to the test right off the bat. Point Park was without one of its best players in defender Josh Williams, who was serving a suspension after receiving a red card in the 2016 season finale.

Then Williams came back and Point Park caught a break against a winless Siena Heights team. The Pioneers finally came through with a 2-0 win and haven’t scored since.

They have only allowed one goal since.

They’ve won five games since dropping those first two.

It’s a welcomed winning streak for a team that desperately needed a confidence boost. It’s also a well-timed winning streak that leads Point Park into conference play.

That schedule opens this weekend at Asbury and Cincinnati Christian. The Pioneers have nine River States Conference games on the season without another non-conference contest on their schedule from here on out.

They’ll alternate weekends from here on out between the road and home.

The Pioneers are in a good position heading into RSC competition with this five-game winning streak. They’ve outscored opponents 22-1 during the time and tossed shutouts in the first four games of the streak.

Their opponents in these last five games haven’t been at the same quality of Florida National and Lawrence Tech, but they did allow for Point Park to get in a rhythm and get in good spirits heading into this important first weekend.

The Pioneers’ confidence level could change dramatically between now and next week. A 2-0 start to their conference schedule could put their confidence through the roof, but an 0-2 sluggish start could derail the train that is finally on the right track.

First up for Point Park is Asbury. The Eagles reached the conference semifinals last year and were picked fourth in the RSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. They’re 2-3 so far this season and winless at home so far.

Cincinnati Christian comes two days later. The Eagles were picked eighth of the 10 teams in the RSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, but won their first four games before dropping their most recent game at Saint Francis. They outscored opponents 21-2 in their season-opening four-game winning streak.

There’s no reason the Pioneers can’t win their first two RSC games on the road this weekend, but they’re also not runaway favorites to dominate both contests.

They were really tested in their first two games and went on a roll for their next five. Now, they’ll have to keep that ball rolling and bring their best to open their conference schedule on a high note.