The women’s soccer team’s season came to end on Wednesday, Nov. 10, after losing in the River States Conference (RSC) playoff semifinals.
The Pioneers fell to the hands of the number one seeded team in the conference, the Ohio Valley University Fighting Scots, 3-0 on the road. The loss marks the second straight season that Point Park has been eliminated in the semifinals, with the team having to forfeit due to COVID-19 concerns last season. The team ends their season with a 8-8-3 record overall, making for back to back seasons of records at or above .500, and their third season of being eliminated in the semifinals.
The Pioneers were on the road in Vienna, West Virginia for their match up against a 12-1-1 Fighting Scots team that had gone undefeated in RSC play this season. OVU is a new team to the RSC conference, having previously been a part of the NCAA as a Division II school before coming to the NAIA and the RSC. The team joined the RSC in February of 2021, making them eligible to join in play this school year.
The Pioneers had previously taken on OVU earlier in the season in the exact same place and fought until the end, in which they fell in overtime 2-1. The first half was a close, low scoring affair, with Point Park starting off the first 10 minutes of the match applying as much offensive pressure as possible against their higher seeded foes. The Fighting Scots were able to settle in though and kept the Pioneers to only two shots in the first half, with only one landing on net. OVU turned up their pressure a quarter of a way through the first half, taking nine shots in the first, while only being able to land three on net. After the first 45 minutes of play, the score still stood at 0 a piece.
The start of the second half was a similar story, with Point Park coming out with as much fire as possible in hopes of catching the Fighting Scots on their back foot. OVU was able to stand their ground, and, in the 65th minute, were able to score the first goal of the game after an attempted clearance by the Pioneers. OVU kept the pressure coming after that, netting another goal on their very next shot in the 72 minute thanks to a chip shot. The Fighting Scots kept coming, taking four more shots before getting their third and final goal in the 83rd minute that was a shot from over 20 yards out. Neither team would take another shot to end the contest at 3-0 in favor of OVU, advancing them to the RSC finals.
Point Park would only be able to muster together four shots in the contest, landing two (one in each half), in comparison to the Fighting Scots’ 18 shots, with eight landing on net. Freshmen Madison Zerbe and TaMaya Wolford, as well as sophomore Athena Beck and junior Josie Valeri, all led the team in shots with one a piece. Zerbe and Beck were the only ones to have their shots land on net. Sophomore Ella Serlin got the start in net, saving five of the eight shots that landed on net.
Although the team’s season ends short of their goal, the Pioneers still have a bright future ahead. Beck was named to the 2021 All-RSC First Team as a defender, with Zerbe making the All-RSC Second Team as a forward. Those awards were voted upon by the 12 RSC women’s soccer head coaches. With a roster consisting of only four seniors and three juniors, the team is still young and has time to get to their peak. Alongside second year coach John Newberry, who is now 16-14-3 in his short time at Point Park, the team will look to build off of this season and look towards the future.