Nerves high for women’s soccer ahead of playoffs

Pioneers now seeded first, wait until Halloween for fate of final RSC rank


Photo by Robert Berger

Freshman forward Tia Horew chases a ball in the offensive zone during a game against Ohio Christian University earlier this month. The soccer team defeated Indiana University East last Thursday in their final conference game.

Written By Rachael McKriger, Staff Writer

The women’s soccer team at Point Park clinched a spot in the playoffs last week. Now, the Pioneers have to play the waiting game to find out where they will begin tournament play.

Point Park sat in the third seed heading into Thursday’s match against Indiana University East. Abby Magilocca and Gabby Widman expected a physical match against the Red Wolves — and that’s what they got.

However, despite the high physicality of the match, Point Park snagged a victory. The 1-0 win over Indiana University East bumped up the Pioneers to first place in the River States Conference. Point Park’s victory came off a lone goal from sophomore midfielder Courtney Clark.

Asia Pennock-Franke, a senior defender, recorded the assist.

Pioneers head coach Maggie Kuhn said that Clark had been injured for most of the season, but was able to log quality minutes in a must-win match.

“We have a few injuries that are keeping some of our starters or girls that come off the bench, that weren’t playing in Thursday’s game,” Kuhn explained. “I had quite a few players playing out of position. A lot of girls that don’t see a lot of minutes stepped up.”

Talking about Clark’s goal, Kuhn said that her midfielder was “outstanding.”

“Courtney made a great run, a far-post run,” Kuhn said. “There was a little bit of a scuffle when the goalkeeper [Amanda Nicholson] dropped it, so she was able to poke it in. I’m hoping that she’ll continue to get better with more minutes.”

During the match, Point Park used three different formations. In addition to their usual 4-4-2 formation, Kuhn tried out a 4-5-1 formation. However, she said it didn’t last long because she wanted to have two forwards up top. Then, Kuhn experimented with a 3-5-2 formation, testing the backline and getting more players in the midfield.

“It’s important that our team is comfortable moving between different formations, just in case we need to make a change,” Kuhn said. “I think that we have to be a little bit more unpredictable since a lot of teams are scouting us. We need to find more ways to put goals in the back of the way.”

Widman called using a different formation a “positive” change.

“We were able to get more players into the attack to get more goal-scoring opportunities,” Widman said. “It gave us the chance to communicate a bit better and get more organized, defensively and offensively. It was a good test for us and now we know what we need to change.”

Meanwhile, senior defender Abby Magilocca said the formation threw off Indiana University East. When the Pioneers scored, the team went back to its usual 4-4-2 formation, quickly throwing off the other team.

“I thought it worked well, so I liked changing it up for a little bit to give ourselves more of an attack,” Magilocca said. “That kind of changed how the game was going for us. It was interesting to see more players in different spots and get more players in the midfield.”

Now, the team is waiting to see where they will fall in the playoffs. Point Park got some help from Indiana University East, as they beat in-city rival Carlow last week. Now, it’s up to Indiana University East to beat Asbury, so Point Park can keep their No. 1 spot. However, should Asbury win, Point Park would fall to second place. However, the team would still pick up a first-round bye.

Magilocca said that waiting can be nerve-wracking.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen in the upcoming games,” Magilocca said. “It’s kind of nice to finally be done with the conference games and move on to the tournament. That’s’ what we’ve been playing for this whole time. We’re excited and happy about our placement right now. We’re hoping we stay where we’re at and get the bye week and hopefully start with the semifinals.”

Meanwhile, Widman said that Coach Kuhn’s message has been to not be complacent, especially with a match on Wednesday against Washington Adventist University. Despite the match not being a conference tilt, Kuhn said that her team will go in with the intention to win.

“We’re not as polished as we need to be, so it’s another opportunity for us to gain some confidence before going into the conference tournament,” Kuhn said. “ It’s definitely a good opportunity for us to have an opposed training session of sorts against a team that will be hungry to beat us at our home field. Another win added to the win column is a big deal for us.”