Women’s soccer knocks off top two RSC teams


Photo by Megan Bixler | Point Park Athletics

Junior defender Abby Magliocca, gets the ball before her opponent during Sunday’s game against Rio Grande.

Written By Josh Croup, Co-Sports Editor

Point Park entered last weekend on the verge of missing the conference tournament for the first time in six years, needing to pick up wins against the top two teams in the River States Conference (RSC) to stay alive in the postseason race.

Friday and Sunday against West Virginia Tech and Rio Grande, the Pioneers did just that, sweeping the season’s most critical conference weekend at home.

The Pioneers handed West Virginia Tech its first conference loss of the season Friday night to improve to 4-2-1 in RSC play on the season.

All they needed were two first half goals to hold off the Golden Bears.

Lauren Bower scored her third goal of the season and the first goal of the night for Point Park in the 23rd minute off a pass from Nikki Polens.

Seven minutes later, Chloe Bowser drew a free kick after a West Virginia Tech foul. Her free kick found Izzy Hunter who struck for her fifth goal of the season to put Point Park up 2-0.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ashtyn Webb made four saves for her fifth shutout of the year. Point Park outshot West Virginia Tech 11-9 on the evening with four shots on net.

Rio Grande came into Sunday’s game with Point Park after dropping a 2-1 final two nights prior against Carlow at Highmark Stadium, the RedStorm’s first conference loss of the year. The RedStorm tied last weekend with the Golden Bears at home.

After 35 scoreless minutes, Rio Grande struck first off a free kick from Jenna Jones, her third of the season. Jones is a two-sport athlete at Rio Grande, earning all-conference honors as a pitcher on the softball team last year.

That tally was followed minutes later by the RedStorm’s leading goal scorer Payten Davis, who notched her sixth goal of the season.

Rio Grande took what Point Park head coach Maggie Kuhn called a “vulnerable” two-goal lead into the locker room. Senior Noel Hartle said the coaches encouraged the team during halftime.

“Our team has a lot of heart and I think our coaches do a great job of lifting us up, especially when we’re down,” Hartle said.

The RedStorm’s goalkeeper Andrea Vera, who claimed RSC Defender of the Week honors at the beginning of the month, left the game at the end of the first half due to injury. She was replaced in net by Alli Jones, who made her season debut Sunday.

Momentum started to shift in the 12th minute of the second half when Izzy Hunter beat Jones on a penalty kick for her team-best sixth goal of the year.

“I think we knew we were back in the game then,” Hunter said. “We knew we needed only one more goal.”

Two minutes later, Morgan French received a pass through traffic from Olajua Pedemonte and beat Jones for the equalizer.

10 minutes later in the 70th minute, Hunter pointed up field towards Lauren Bower. She received the pass and put the ball past Jones for her fourth goal of the season and the game-winning tally.

Point Park took the lead thanks to Lauren Bower’s fourth goal of the season off a pass from Izzy Hunter. It was the game winner.

“As soon as I saw Izzy point, I knew what to do,” Bower said. “I thought she was pointing at me telling me to go. I had a feeling.”

Kuhn said the team took advantage of its opportunities in the second half and didn’t look back at the first.

“The ingredient was missing was pure hard work,” Kuhn said. “When we put them under pressure, it worked. We were able to change the momentum of the game. I give them a lot of credit. They responded well.”

Point Park recognized its seven seniors before the game in the last weekend home game of the season, including Hunter, Hartle, Justina Cincotti, Alex Gradwell, Audra Lewis, Katy Melhuish, and Bella Wilson.

The Pioneers will play as the road team against Carlow at Highmark Stadium on Saturday with an improved 5-2-1 RSC record.

“We’re on a high,” Hunter said. “Hopefully we can go into Carlow off two wins and smash them.”