Croup’s Corner – Anticipated weekend lives up to hype

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

Once the seasonal Halloween stores close down at the end of the season, many of the spaces will be replaced with Christmas shops and calendar stores.

I personally love the calendar stores. There’s a wide variety of creativity on display, from the simplest of 12-month displays to the most complicated and unique daily agendas.

When we open a new calendar at the start of a new year, we circle a few dates. They’re the important dates: birthdays, holidays, vacation days, etc.

When the Point Park soccer teams got this season’s schedule, they circled last weekend, and for good reason.

West Virginia Tech and Rio Grande were going to be among the top teams in the River States Conference (RSC) entering the year. It was a widely accepted fact.

Especially on the men’s side, where Rio Grande was coming off two straight years in the national championship, winning the crown two years ago. West Virginia Tech entered the season as the No. 6 team in the nation.

Last weekend came towards the end of the 2017 schedule, with only one conference game afterwards.

The weekend delivered every bit of the hype that we could have expected.

No, the men didn’t win either contest. But they showed that they can play with the best teams in the country, forcing the No. 3 team in the nation to overtime with multiple chances to win the game.

The men showed their resiliency and what can happen when they play as one cohesive unit – something that the team was missing at the beginning of the year.

They wanted the win against Rio Grande and they probably deserved it. Ask head coach Jeroen Walstra.

“We showed a lot of heart,” Walstra said. “I think we wanted it more than they did.”

Both teams recognized the importance of the weekend. For the men, postseason seeding was on the line. For the women, a pair of losses meant they might miss the conference tournament for the first time in six years.

But both teams showed up to play and delivered thrillers that should be remembered by these players in the years to come.

“This was the best I’ve seen us play in a while,” Maggie Kuhn, women’s head coach said.

The women trailed by two at halftime against Rio Grande and somehow made a comeback to win 3-2 in regulation.

The men exchanged goals with Rio Grande and somehow kept the RedStorm to just two goals on 21 total shots in regulation. I can only imagine what the scene at Highmark Stadium would have looked like if they were able to pull off the overtime upset.

They didn’t defeat the RedStorm despite having their backs against the wall, but the Pioneers didn’t hold their heads after the game.

Players exchanged fist bumps, hugs and handshakes after the grueling 107-minute contest concluded. There was a mutual respect shown on the field.

For Rio Grande, it was a respect for the team that gave its all and pushed them to one of their toughest tests of the season. For Point Park, it was a respect for the unbelievable talent that the RedStorm roster has; a roster built to win a national championship.

The games all had playoff atmospheres. Next up is a date with crosstown rival Carlow. The women’s team is on the outside edge of the playoff picture and the men’s squad is winless this season.

Saturday’s game at Highmark Stadium is the next date circled on the Point Park’s calendar, with the start of the conference tournament next.

Last weekend showed everybody the exciting potential of both teams. Last weekend showed the character the teams have developed throughout the year.

Last weekend can now get crossed off the calendar as we turn the page to the more important dates: the conference tournament.