Women’s Soccer falls in heartbreaking style to Rio Grande, eliminated from playoffs

Team falls in Penalty Kicks in RSC Semifinals after undefeated conference play

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

The women’s soccer team’s season came to an unfortunate end on Wednesday, November 9, as the Pioneers fell in the River State Conference (RSC) semifinals at home to the University of Rio Grande in Penalty Kicks. The loss comes after Point Park clinched the first seed in the playoffs, receiving a first round bye and home field advantage for the playoffs. The loss eliminates the team from the RSC and NAIA playoffs in heartbreaking fashion. 

The playoff matchup set at Highmark Stadium saw the Rio Grande Red Storm visiting the Pioneers at home, after already pulling an upset in Overtime in their previous match. Point Park came into the match up as heavy favorites, after placing as the number one seed and receiving a first round bye to instantly start in the RSC semifinals. 

The first half saw an offensive onslaught from the Pioneers, firing off 11 shots alone in the first half and 6 straight after a punch for punch start. Rio Grande would make their three shots in the first half count though, scoring the game’s first goal in the 38th minute with a shot from thirty yards out to make it a 1-0 game. Point Park collected three more shots before the end of the half, but would not be able to find the back of the net in the first 45 minutes. 

The second half was a similar tune to the first, but with better results for the team in green and gold. The two teams would trade shots to start off the second half, but the Pioneers made sure that was their only shot of the half, keeping their offense in check for the rest of the second half. Point Park would tie the game up in the 65th minute, thanks to the foot of junior defender Athena Beck, after she received a pass from freshman defender Mireya Rojas to tie it at 1-1.

The Pioneers continued to pepper the Red Storm zone with shots, collecting eight in the second half, but were not able to find the net again for the remaining 45 minutes, sending the game to overtime. 

By overtime rules in the RSC, the overtime period must be played out to time and is not sudden death. With that in mind, the Pioneers would drive down the field early into the overtime period, scoring in the 93rd minute with a straight shot from 25 yards out from sophomore Abigail Gnass; her first of the season, and the goal that gave the Pioneers their first lead of the game. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, the Red Storm would not go down without a fight, and in the 103rd minute of the contest, Rio Grande would find the back of the net with a shot from 35 yards out to tie the game up once again at 2-2. With overtime finishing at a tie, the match arrived at penalty kicks to determine who would advance to the RSC finals. Each team would get five penalty kicks, with Rio Grande making all five of their attempts, and would ultimately defeat Point Park after the Pioneers would miss on their second attempt, with the Red Storm winning in PK’s 5-4. 

The Pioneers dominated the Red Storm on the scorecard, out shooting the visitors 22 to six, with Point Park hitting 14 on goal compared to Rio Grande’s four. Senior forward Holly Pascoe would lead the team in shots with nine, with six of them landing on net. Beck and Gnass would record the two goals, with Rojas picking up the only assist. Junior goalkeeper Ella Serlin would record the start in net and save two of the four shots she faced in net. 

The team’s season ends at 10-6-2, with a 9-0-1 record in the RSC, with the loss in the semifinals cutting the team’s chance at the NAIA playoffs. The Pioneers did have an award winning season for many of their players though, with Beck receiving RSC defensive player of the year, with new head coach Kelly Raddar receiving the coach of the year award in his first season.

Pascoe, Rojas, Beck, and senior middle Elisa Ferrer would all receive All-RSC first team honors, with junior forward Channel Britten, sophomore defender Alina Bigec, and Serlin would all receive second team honors. With three graduating seniors on the roster, the Pioneers will now look towards next season to see if they can repeat their regular season success, and push further into next year’s playoffs.