No. 23 Point Park misses NAIA at-large bid, season ends at 15-3, 4-0 KIAC
Nov. 19, 2014 at 2:15 p.m. ET
PITTSBURGH -- The winningest season in the history of Point Park University men's soccer came to a disappointing end for the Pioneers when they came up just short of at at-large bid to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round with the announcement of the national tournament bracket by the NAIA on Sunday (Nov. 16).
Point Park (15-3, 4-0 KIAC) was ranked No. 19 in the final Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) ratings, which are used to determine the at-large bids to the 32-team NAIA National Championship Opening Round beginning Nov. 22 at campus sites around the country.
There were eight at-large bids handed out by the NAIA on Sunday with the national tournament selection show on NAIANetwork.com. But the final at-large invitation went to Kansas Wesleyan, ranked No. 17 in the final MRPI ratings, meaning the Pioneers missed by two spots after being 10th in line for the eight at-large bids. At-large bids were given to the top eight teams in the MRPI standings that did not already have an automatic bid.
Point Park had been to the NAIA national tournament each of the last two years as KIAC/GCAC Unaffiliated Group Tournament champions, each time receiving an automatic bid. But Point Park lost to NAIA No. 1 Rio Grande, 3-2, in the conference tournament final at Asbury on Nov. 15, which gave the automatic bid to the RedStorm, a KIAC newcomer this year.
With the loss in the conference finals, Point Park's hopes of continuing its season were tied to an at-large bid. With several upsets in conference tournaments around the country, the Pioneers' chances were hurt. Still, Point Park had a chance. In the end, Point Park's MRPI score was too low.
Point Park's final MRPI score of 0.653739 was just 0.035106 behind Kansas Wesleyan as the final at-large qualifier. The complete standings of the final MRPI are available at the link above.
The MRPI is based on three categories -- winning percentage, opponent's winning percentage and cumulative votes earned in the NAIA Top 25 Poll throughout the year. Each category has a weighted measure with winning percentage accounting for 44 percent, opponent winning percentage for 26 percent and NAIA Top 25 votes for 30 percent.
The three categories are combined to create one score. Point Park fared very well with a score of 0.861111 in the winning percentage category, which was eighth-best among the top 25 schools in the MRPI. Point Park also fared well in the opponent's winning percentage category with a score of 0.576786, which was 12th best among the top 25 finishers.
Point Park came up short in the NAIA Top 25 ratings category with a score of 0.097143, which was lower than any school that finished in front of the Pioneers in the overall MRPI.
Point Park ends the year with a school-record for wins with 15 and once again went undefeated in the KIAC at 4-0 for their third straight KIAC Regular Season championship. Point Park is also the only team to beat NAIA No. 1 Rio Grande (15-1-2), the overall top seed in the national tournament.
Another big accomplishment for the Pioneers this year was being ranked in the NAIA Top 25 for the first time in team history. The Pioneers broke into the rankings for the first time ever with their 2-1 win over Rio Grande on Sept. 20, and they stayed ranked for the rest of the season with Top 25 mention in all nine polls of the season.
Point Park did slip down three spots to No. 23 in the NAIA Top 25 Poll released Nov. 16, which came a day after the loss to Rio Grande in the conference final. But that rating did not play into the final MRPI standings. Point Park got as high as No. 20 in the country at 14-2 overall, a ranking they held for the final three weeks of the regular season.
"We reached our objective that we set prior to the season, which was to be ranked in the NAIA Top 25," said Point Park head coach Jeroen Walstra. "Still, it is disappointing that even though you are the only team to beat the No. 1 team Rio Grande this year, you don't get to play in the national championship. That seems wrong to me."
With conference regular season and tournament titles and NAIA national tournament appearances under their belts the last two years, the Pioneers broke new ground in the NAIA Top 25 this season. The 2014 season was in some ways more successful than the previous two years that included national tournament qualifications. And with the momentum built this fall, the Pioneers will look to continue their status in the NAIA with only two starters lost to graduation this year.
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