#1 Point Park beats #2 Asbury (Ky.), 5-4, in KIAC/GCAC Finals, is headed to NAIAs
Nov. 10, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Point Park men's soccer is headed to the NAIA national tournament for the first time. Photo by Olivia DiYanni.
POINT PARK 5, ASBURY 4 Final
PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University scored five goals in the first half and held off a second-half rally led by Trent Popp to defeat Asbury (Ky.) University, 5-4, in the Unaffiliated Group KIAC/GCAC Tournament Finals at Cupples Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, No. 1 seed Point Park (11-6-0, 4-0-0 KIAC) qualifies for the NAIA national tournament for the first time in school history. No. 2 seed Asbury ends the year 12-7-1, 2-1-1 KIAC and is likely out of reach for an at-large national bid.
The NAIA national tournament begins with the NAIA Opening Round Nov. 17 at campus sites around the country. Point Park will learn of its opponent and location when the NAIA office announces the pairings Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. CST. The 32-team national tournament starts out with 16 games in the NAIA Opening Round.
Point Park trailed 1-0 but that did little to hold of a furious offensive explosion in the first half. Point Park led, 5-2, at the break after Romida Nanko scored two goals and Jonty Loukes, Matt Annecchiarico and Francis Tabi had one apiece the first 45 minutes. Lucas Silva picked up three asssists and Alex Sala two before the game was half over.
The first half was an excellent display of offensive abilities by the Pioneers, who have won five in a row and 8 of 10 since being 3-4 in late September.
The score remained 5-2 until Popp scored nin the 54th minute to make things tighter at 5-3. Popp, who nearly single-handedly brough Asbuy back, scored his 16th goal of the year in the 67th minute to make it 5-4.
Over the last 23 minutes, Asbury had some chances while desperately trying to extend its season. But Point Park had just enough defense to secure the win.
Point Park led in the final shot totals, 20-13. Asbury goalkeeper Dylan Fouts had 10 saves, and Mitchell Kelman had five for the Pioneers.
KIAC/GCAC TOURNAMENT FINALS PREVIEW:
PITTSBURGH -- #1 seed Point Park (10-6-0) will host #2 seed Asbury (Ky.) (12-6-1) in the Unaffiliated KIAC/GCAC Tournament Finals on Nov. 10 at Cupples Stadium (2 p.m.). The winner will get automatic qualification to the NAIA national tournament beginning Nov. 17 with the NAIA Opening Round.
Cupples Stadium is located at 930 E Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. The stadium is on the South Side of Pittsburgh and is not the usual home venue for the Pioneers.
#1 Point Park has won four in a row and seven of nine games overall. The Pioneers beat Talladega (AL), 4-1, in the semifinals Thursday. Point Park scores 3.1 goals per game and gives up 1.3 goals/game.
Point Park had many new players after last year's 12-5-1 record and trip to the AMC Finals. After some varying results early in the year when they were 3-4, the Pioneers have gotten on a roll. Point Park has 28 players from 14 different countries including eight international starters.
#2 Asbury is also on a roll with eight wins in a row since a two-game losing streak in early October. The Eagles lost to Point Park 2-1 (2OT) and tied Brescia 3-3 (2OT) to finish 2-1-1 KIAC. It was those two close defeats that kept the Eagles from being unbeaten in the KIAC like Point Park. Asbury beat Brescia, 2-1, in the semis.
In the regular season matchup won by Point Park, 2-1 (2OT), Alex Sala gave Point Park a 1-0 lead with a goal 8:21 into the game. The Pioneers maintained the lead until a foul in the penalty area resulted in Trent Popp's PK goal in the 86th minute.
After scoreless first overtime, Point Park back Frazer McKinlay provided the game-winning strike with 1:17 left in the second OT. Asbury held a 24-18 advantage in shots for the game including a 16-7 edge in the second half and overtime.
Admission will be $4 for adults, $2 for students and Free with Point Park student ID. Fan Vans will leave campus from the SC Lot at 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. and are Free with Student ID.
For updates of the KIAC/GCAC M. Soccer Finals follow @PointParkSports on Twitter.