Point Park University Women's Soccer 2013 Season Preview
Aug. 31, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- The Point Park University women's soccer team is coming off its best season ever in 2012 with a program-record 10 wins and a trip to the KIAC Tournament Finals. The Pioneers have 8 of 11 starters and 16 of 20 letter winners returning from that team.
With almost all of their team back for 2013, the Pioneers are predicted to finish second in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, one spot and one point behind Carlow. Point Park lost to Carlow, 1-0, in the KIAC Finals last year.
But for a program that had never won more than five games in any season before 2012, the Pioneers and second-year head coach Maggie Kuhn are looking to build even more off their 10-win campaign of a year ago.
Point Park women's soccer is in just its ninth year of existence after being established in 2005. The Pioneers' only real taste of success thus far was 2012.
With a junior class that makes up a bulk of the team's corps and a group of talented sophomores with a year under their belts, the Pioneers have high hopes for 2013. Point Park also has a few seniors who will play key roles and will look to finish their careers with a lasting mark on Pioneers soccer.
Junior Megan Kuntz (Newville, Pa.) is top returning goal-scorer from a year ago as she earned a spot on the KIAC All-Conference Team with nine goals, five assists and 23 points. She has been a starting forward for the Pioneers her whole career, but she will also see some time on the outside midfield this year.
Point Park should be strong down the middle with two-year starter Kari Kowalski (Harrison, Ohio), a junior, back at center midfield. Lending more experience to the midfield are players like senior Emily Levier (Gibsonia, Pa.).
The middle of Point Park's defense will be in good hands with KIAC All-Conference senior Destiny James (Cumberland, Md.) along side two-year starter Angie Abel (Baltimore, Md.), a junior, at center defense.
Sophomore Leeza Tokarski (Pittsburgh, Pa.) had a strong year with 10 goals and 22 points as a freshman. She and fellow sophomore Alyson Joyce (Medina, Ohio), who had seven goals and 16 points, are a couple of leading players up front.
Other returning starters are sophomore outside midfielder Jillian Evilsizer (Medina, Ohio) and junior outside defender Amanda Mikolay (North Versailles, Pa.). Mikolay missed the final 11 games of 2012 but will certainly be in the mix on defense when healthy.
The Pioneers split most of the goalkeeping time last year between Mackenzie Pinto (Harleysvill, Pa.) and Erica Roney (Springdale, Pa.), who are both back this year. Pinto, a senior, started 11 games last year, and Roney, a sophomore, got eight starts. Junior Lauren Finkbeiner (Davison, Mich.) has also made her presence known in the goalkeeper competition in her third year with the Pioneers.
Junior Jorden Strehle started 9 of 19 games a year ago and will be right in the mix as one of the Pioneers' top options at forward or midfield. Angela Robinet (South Korea) is another junior who has been a top sub her first two years with a chance to take on a bigger role in her third year. She had three goals last year and is midfielder/defender.
Other top returners for the Pioneers are senior forward Kileigh Williams (Marion, Ind.), who had three goals in 2012, and sophomore midfielder Molly Flinn (Alliance, Ohio). Flinn, Mikolay and junior midfielder Louise Delaney (England) have been battling injuries in the preseason but will factor in at full strength. Junior Ashley Stedge has not played much in two years but gives depth on defense.
Other players on defense are newcomers such as Paige Manning, a freshman from Newmarket, Ontario., and Kayla Bentham, a freshman from Westfield, N.J. Fellow newcomers Kelsey Wilkins (Monaca, Pa.) and Ula Koczkodaj (Poland) have been battling for time in the midfield while newcomers Natalie Richards (Natrona Heights, Pa.) and Beth Millican (England) are on the depth chart up front at forward.
The Point Park defense has been strong the last few years and has always put the Pioneers in position to win the last few years. Point Park gave up just 21 total goals in 19 games last year and posted seven shutouts. But the Pioneers found it hard to score at times in recent years and were held to two goals or less in 11 of 19 games in 2012.
The defense figures to be a strong suit for the Pioneers once again this year with the team most likely playing games close to the vest as in the recent past. That trend played out in the 2013 preseason with Point Park winning 1-0 over Mt. Vernon Nazarene and losing 2-0 at Washington & Jefferson.
But the Pioneers have plenty of potential offensively with sophomores and juniors making up most of the attacking players. And when a few key players get healthy, Point Park will be able to get its 11 best players on the field, leading to a stronger overall attack.