No. 20 Point Park falls to No. 1 Rio Grande in KIAC Tournament finals
Nov. 15, 2014
Point Park's Zach Rafalowski defends against Rio Grande's Jorge Andres Guinovart in a Sept. 20 home win over the RedStorm.
WILMORE, Ky. -- In a matchup of NAIA Top 25 teams, No. 20 Point Park University fell to No. 1 Rio Grande, 3-2, in the KIAC Men's Soccer Tournament finals on Saturday night, a championship game hosted by Asbury (Ky.) University.
Top-ranked Rio Grande (15-1-2, 3-1 KIAC) owned the first half, and Point Park (15-3, 4-0 KIAC) owned the second half. Along the way, the top two teams in the KIAC battled hard with a total of eight cards -- three of which were red cards -- in the game.
Point Park scored both of its goals in the second half and each one came with Rio Grande holding a man advantage. Point Park's Lucas Silva scored his 26th goal of the season in the 60th minute with the Pioneers playing 10 on 11.
Trailing, 3-1, in the final minute, the Pioneers cut it to 3-2 on Lucas Godinho's goal with 27 seconds left. On Godinho's goal, Point Park had nine men on the field, and Rio Grande had 10.
With the loss, Point Park must rely on an at-large bid to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round to extend its season. The Pioneers, who are ranked No. 20 in the latest NAIA Top 25 Poll, are within striking distance of an at-large bid to the 32-team NAIA national tournament, which is given to the top eight teams in the final MRPI rankings that don't have an automatic bid related to a conference.
The Final NAIA Top 25 Poll will be released by the NAIA on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 4:30 p.m. CT. The final MRPI rankings and the 32 qualifiers for the NAIA National Championship Opening Round will be announced Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The official bracket pairings will be released on Monday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. CT.
Point Park's streak of two straight conference tournament championships has come to an end. The Pioneers have played in their conference tournament finals each of the last four years when including their runner-up finish in the 2011 AMC Tournament.
The Pioneers are seeking their third straight trip to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, and it would be their first at-large selection if they qualify. Point Park earned the KIAC's automatic bid the last two years, a distinction that goes to Rio Grande this year, their first season in the KIAC.
Point Park and Rio Grande split the season series this year, and the teams are even on the scoreboard with four goals for and four goals against in the two games. The Pioneers are still the only team to beat Rio Grande, a 2-1 home win Sept. 20.
Rio Grande ended Point Park's 11-game win streak, which is a school record. Both teams now have 15 wins in 18 games as Rio Grande is 15-1-2 and Point Park is 15-3. The 15 wins for Point Park are a school record for most victories in a season. Point Park won the KIAC Regular Season championship at 4-0 KIAC, and Rio Grande was 3-1 KIAC.