Women’s Soccer starts season under new head coach, start off season with tough schedule

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

The women’s soccer team’s season is officially underway for the 2022 season, with the team’s season beginning on Saturday, Aug. 27, and their regular season will continue until Oct. 29. The Pioneers are off to a bit of a rough start to begin their year, starting the season 0-3 after being defeated by three non-conference opponents in Madonna University, Shawnee State University, and Goshen College. The team has a new captain at the helm as well for this upcoming season; Coach Kelly Radar, who was brought in at the beginning of August after former head coach John Newberry stepped away from the team. 

The Pioneers started off their season with a road trip to Livonia, Michigan, where the Madonna University Crusaders are located, on Aug. 27. After a first half that was mostly dominated by Madonna on the stat sheet, the game was still tied at zero a piece after 45 minutes, even with the Crusaders 11 shots, of which only two landed on net. Point Park was only able to take a single shot, which was also saved, during the first half. The second half was a much closer affair, but at the 52nd minute of the game, Madonna was able to break the scoring drought for both teams with a goal to put the Crusaders up 1-0. The game would continue to be an uphill battle for the Pioneers, and in the 82nd minute, Madonna put another tally on the board to give them insurance and make it 2-0. Sophomore forward Tamaya Wolford would make sure the Pioneers would not go down quietly though, scoring her first of the season in the 85th minute to make it 2-1. Unfortunately, that score would stand as the final for the Pioneers, leaving them at 0-1 to start their season to their out-of-conference opponents. 

Game two saw the return of the Pioneers to the 412, where the team would play at their secondary location at the Montour Junction complex in Coraopolis. Taking on the Shawnee State Bears on Wednesday, Aug. 31, it was once again a closely contested match through the first 45 minutes of play, as neither side could seem to find the back of the net. The Bears would outshoot Point Park five-to-two in the first half, but only three landed on net, while both of the Pioneers landed on net, but were saved. Once again, the opposition would break open the scoring between the two sides, with a Shawnee State goal in the 63rd minute to make it a 1-0 game. Point Park would try furiously to mount a comeback, but would come up short in the end, with the final score standing at 1-0. The Bears would take a monstrous 14 shots in the second half, with eight of them landing on net, with the Pioneers only being able to muster four with two of them landing on net as well. Junior middle Athena Beck would lead the way in shots with two, with one landing on net. 

Game three would be another road trip for the Pioneers, as they headed to Goshen, Indiana on Saturday, Aug. 3 to take on the Goshen Maple Leafs. Goshen would come out the gates flying, and would find the game’s first goal quickly in the 8th minute of the match to make it 1-0 early on. Goshen, a top 25 ranked team last season, made sure to make it an uphill battle for the Pioneers, as Point Park was able to put up four shots, all landing on net, in the first 45 minutes, but to no avail on the scoring sheet. The Maple Leafs shot the ball six times in the first half, with half of their shots landing on net. The second half was a more dominant showing by the squad from Indiana, with Goshen scoring an insurance goal in the 81st minute to make it 2-0, which would stand as the final score of the matchup. Point Park would only be able to get one shot off in the second half, compared to Goshen’s five. Senior forward Holly Pascoe would lead the team in shots with two, with one being on goal. 

“The beginning of the season is starting off a bit rocky since we’re playing our hardest teams first with a newer team,” Wolford said. “Although we haven’t gotten the results we wanted, we’re still making improvements from the results we got last year. I just know this year is gonna be special.” 

With the new season underway, there also comes the difficulty for many of the returning players to adjust to a new head coach. Coach Radar has spent 13 seasons coaching, with 10 of them as a head coach. Radar last coached at Division III St. Joseph’s (New York) College, and also led multiple other programs including Portland Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, and Treasure Valley College (Oregon). 

“We’re adjusting,” Wolford said. “(Coach) Kelly has a very different style of play compared to (Coach) John’s so as returning players it’s a big difference. But we’re all making it work.”

Former Head Coach John Newberry stepped away from the team in late June and was quickly scooped up by Milligan (Tennessee) University, an NAIA school as well, shortly after. 

“I think that holding each other to a high standard while remaining accountable will be the key to our success for this year,” junior goalkeeper Ella Serlin said, who has been the main starter for Point Park over the last few seasons. 

The Pioneers will look to dig up their first win with a match-up against 24th-ranked Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana on Monday, Sept. 5, in yet another road trip to start their season. Point Park will then take on Lourdes University on the road as well on Saturday, Sept. 10, in Sylvania, Ohio, as they continue to rack up their miles on the season. Their next home game will not be until Saturday, Sept. 17, as they take on 5th ranked Spring Arbor at Montour Junction once again. Their first home game at Highmark stadium will be Saturday, Sept. 24, against River State Conference (RSC) rival Ohio Christian. Schedule updates will be provided on the Point Park athletics website.