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NAIA Opening Rd Preview

Point Park (11-6-0, 4-0-0 KIAC) at #1 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (19-1-0, 8-1-0 MSC)

Nov. 17, 2012 at 4 p.m. CT (Columbia, Ky.)

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Point Park (11-6-0, 4-0-0 KIAC)
Roster, Schedule, Stats

#1 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (19-1-0, 8-1-0 MSC)
Roster, Schedule, Stats

PITTSBURGH -- Point Park University will visit #1 overall seed Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Round on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Kickoff is 4 p.m. CT at Reuling Stadium (Columbia, Ky.). Live Video & Live Stats will be provided by LWC Athletics. Click the links above for live coverage at game time.

Point Park is 11-6-0 overall and 4-0-0 KIAC. The Pioneers qualified for their first-ever NAIA national tournament by winning the Unaffiliated Group KIAC/GCAC Tournament championship with a 5-4 win over Asbury (Ky.) on Nov. 10.

The Pioneers will have a very tough test in their first national tournament game in program history. Lindsey Wilson (19-1-0) is ranked No. 1 in the NAIA and are champions of the Mid-South Conference.

The NAIA Opening Round was created in 2006. It is the first round of the 32-team national tournament and features 16 games. The 16 winners of the NAIA Opening Round advance to the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship final site in Montgomery, Ala., for a single-elimination tournament Nov. 26-Dec. 1, 2012.

The NAIA Opening Round is conducted on campus sites around the country that won bids to host. Many of the top seeds in the tournament are hosting Opening Round games, including Lindsey Wilson.

There are 32 teams in the national tournament, and the top 16 teams are seeded. The Point Park-Lindsey Wilson winner will advance to play the winner of No. 16 seed Concordia (Ore.) (15-3-2) vs. unseeded Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (12-2-3) on Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. in Montgomery, Ala.

The top half of the bracket, which Point Park is in, also includes Nov. 4 overall seed Rio Grande (Ohio) (15-2-1) and No. 5 overall seed Scienc & Arts (Okla.) (13-0-4) as the other top teams besides Lindsey Wilson.

The Pioneers are 11-6-0 overall and are playing their best soccer at the end of the year. Point Park has won five in a row and eight of its last 10 games overall. That followed a 3-4 start to the season as of Sept. 21. The Pioneers returned 7 of 11 starters from last year's team that was 12-5-1 and reached the AMC Tournament Finals. Even still, Point Park had many new players in key roles, and much of the first month of the season was spent adjusting to the new lineup. What's more, Point Park play six of its first seven games on the road, which contributed to the 3-4 start.

But starting with a nice win over rival Daemen and a solid Wittenberg club, the Pioneers got on a roll that included finishing out a perfect 4-0-0 record in the KIAC. That earned Point Park the No. 1 seed in the Unaffiliated KIAC/GCAC Touranment, of which it swept through with a 4-1 win over Talladega (Ala.) in the semifinals and a 5-4 win over Asbury (Ky.) in the finals.

Point Park has a strong offense with forwards Matt Annecchiarico (11 G, 3 A, 25 PTS), Francis Tabi (12 G, 0 A, 24 PTS) and Romida Nanko (7 G, 2 A, 16 PTS) providing the scoring up front. Annecchiarico and Tabi are both seniors from Canada and Ghana, respectively. Nanko is a junior from Cameroon who transferred in this year. Another top goal scorer is Ousman Jaiteh, a native of West Africa, who has 7 goals and 14 points off the bench.

Alex Sala, a senior midfielder from Austria, is third on the team in scoring with 20 points. He has five goals and a team-high 10 assists as the player who sets up his teammates the most. Fellow center-midfielder Jonty Loukes, a freshman from England, has 3 goals, 4 assists and 10 points.

Wing players Lucas Silva (0 G, 8 A, 8 PTS), from Brazil, and Frazer McKinlay (3 G, 5 A, 11 PTS), from Scotland, are other leading scorers. Other starters for the Pioneers are midfielder Zack Rafalowski (Pittsburgh/Keystone Oaks) and defenders Brett Gwosden (Elizabeth, Pa./Serra Catholic), Matt Dziak (North Versailles, Pa./East Allegheny) and Jack Pilkinton (Bourne End, England).

The goalkeeper in Mitchell Kelman (1.40 GAA), a senior from Frederick, Md., who has started the last two years. He has three shutouts on the year.

Head coach Jeroen Walstra is in his sixth year as the Point Park men's soccer head coach. At 40-59-3 the last six years, he is the all-time winningest coach in the program that was very down-trodden except for a few years in the late 1990s. Walstra, also the goalkeeper coach of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the professional United Soccer League, has a record of 23-11-1 the last two years.

Led by Walstra, who is from the Netherlands, the Pioneers have a very international roster. Point Park has 28 players from 14 different countries including: USA, Canada, Austria, England, Italy, Scotland, France, Brazil, Venezuela, Ghana, Cameroon, West Africa, Sudan and Palestine.

Key Stats: Point Park ranks 15th in the NAIA in goals per game at 3.24. The Pioneers are scoring 4.1 goals per game while going 8-2 the last 10 games. The Pioneers are 55th in the country in total goals with 55. Point Park gives up 1.47 goals per game.

The Blue Raiders are perhaps the best overall program in NAIA men's soccer with their nine national titles since 1990 and five since 2000. Most recently, Lindsey Wilson won last year's national championship with a 23-0-0 record.

Lindsey Wilson has eight starters returning from last year's championship team for 23rd-year head coach Ray Wells (Appalachian State '81). Chief among the returners are forwards Phillip Sandgren (21 G, 2 A, 44 PTS), from Sweden, and Lebogang Moloto (11 G, 3 A, 25 PTS), from South Africa. Midfielder Eddy Campbell (12 G, 9 A, 33 PTS), from Jamaica, is also a top, veteran scorer. Midfielder Tom Moody (6 G, 6 A, 18 PTS) is from England.

Key Stats: The Blue Raiders have scored 79 goals and given up just 18 in 20 games. Lindsey Wilson ranks 3rd in the nation in total goals (79) and fourth in the country in goals per game (3.95). Defensively, the Blue Raiders have posted eight shutouts to rank eighth in the NAIA. Goalkeeper Yuta Nomura, from Tokyo, Japan, has started all 19 games with a 0.96 goals-against average.

Follow Point Park's progress on social media by following @PointParkSports and Twitter and PointParkAthletics on Facebook. Keep up with the national news by following @Play_NAIA on Twitter with the hastag #NAIASoccer.