Men open RSC play with 6-3 win


Photo by Nick Koehler

Junior midfielder Geert Bijl celebrates a goal against with junior forward captain Mitchell Roell. Bijl scored twice in the RSC opener.

Written By Rachael McKriger, Staff Writer

The month of September was kind to the Point Park men’s soccer team.

Heading into conference play, the Pioneers boasted plenty of confidence. After opening the month with a loss against Lincoln College, the Pioneers went on a four-match unbeaten streak before opening up the RSC competition. On Saturday, Point Park compiled a statement win over Indiana University East, notching six goals in the victory.

Point Park dominated the entire first half, scoring five of their six. Geert Bijl found the back of the net twice, while Lloyd van Wees and Victor Lorente Casaus tapped in goals past the Red Wolves. The fifth goal of the first half was on goal.

Last year, the story was different. Point Park fell to the Red Wolves on the road in a tight 0-1 loss. Sophomore midfielder Conner Kelly said extracting revenge at the Pioneers home field has brought a new energy to the team.

“Starting off our conference play with a win is huge,” Kelly said. “After losing to them last year, it feels great to get the win. After taking a 10-day break between games, keeping our win streak going is great. We came out fast and strong in the first half and took our chances well. We worked as a unit and stuck to our game plan that we practiced in training.”

Wessel Rietveld, a senior from the Netherlands, started the match and said that, despite the heat, Point Park was on the stronger side.

“They couldn’t handle our pressure,” Rietveld, a midfielder, said. “At half time, we were leading, 5-0. Then, we just got sloppy and gave away too many chances. But, we still managed to win. Being back in conference play is great, though.”

As Rietveld mentioned, the second half wasn’t as crisp for the Pioneers. The Red Wolves packed on the chances, as Montell James and Gustavo Ferrari found the back of Point Park’s net within four minutes. After a lone second-half goal from Pioneers senior Daan Stormink, the Red Wolves found one more consolation goal. Point Park managed to keep them scoreless for the last 30 minutes.

Kelly isn’t letting the weather count as an excuse for sloppy play. He also doesn’t credit the location of the match. Point Park splits their home fields between Highmark Stadium and the Montour Junction Sports Complex. With Toby Keith performing at Highmark Stadium, the match was moved to Coraopolis. They’ll play there two more times this season.

“Playing at Montour is unlike our normal home atmosphere, but we don’t let that become an excuse,” Kelly said. “We play our game the same way every match, no matter the conditions. We have trained there and played there multiple times so we know the terrain. We’re familiar with how we want to play on that particular pitch.”

However, the Pioneers won’t be seeing that field for a while. Furthermore, they won’t be home until Oct. 7. That might seem like a short time away, but the Pioneers will have three matches before they return to Highmark Stadium.

In the span of 10 days, the team will feature in five matches from Oct. 1 until Oct. 10. Meanwhile, not all matches are RSC contests. Instead, the team will face off with non-conference opponent Salem University before heading on the road to conference opponents Midway and Asbury.

“We have a good portion of conference and non-conference games coming up in a small span, but what we have in good numbers is depth,” Kelly explained. “We have a lot of good players ready to help this team get through the next few days and help us win out these games. We’re confident that as long as we stay focused and play our game, we can continue to ride out our win streak.”

Freshman Allan Deryamin said that each win will help the Pioneers focus on the next game.

“We need to preserve our win streak, and to do that we have to continue to enjoy what we do, with the people we are doing it with,” Deryamin said. “The team chemistry is great. Everyone works so well together. Practices and games are just a brilliant display of camaraderie and trust in one another.”

Point Park will hit the road on Tuesday to West Virginia to face Salem. Then, a trip to Kentucky will take up the rest of the week, as the team faces Midway on Thursday and Asbury on Saturday.