On the field: men in distress, women impress

Nathan Bottiger, Sports Editor

Out of the gate, the Pitt-Johnstown men and women’s soccer teams have reversed their usual results.

Pitt-Johnstown women’s team has not had a winning start to their season since 2006. This season, they are 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Last year’s team had only three wins all season.

This season, the men’s team has started off with an 0-6 overall record and an 0-2 conference record.

Junior Lisa Mix said the women’s team came into the season amped and ready to prove themselves as worthy competitors.

“Since this is our last year in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and because of our struggle last season, we have all come into this season more pumped than ever,” She said.

Mix said the team’s roster has a lot of players, experience and depth. She said the team’s main goal is to win a conference title before UPJ changes conference next year.

“Our season has gotten off to a great start, and we only want to do even better as the season continues,” Mix said.

She said she considered their 4-0 win over Concord University (Athens, W. Va.) one of their best victories.

“We went into the game as underdogs, and we came out on top,” Mix said. “We definitely showed the conference that (Pitt-Johnstown) has a brand new team.”

Sophomore Janna Stoup said the team is motivated and the wins have given them momentum heading into each game.

“We were just tired of losing all the time, so we’re much more determined to do better this year.”

Stoup said some players were placed in different positions in order to strengthen the team, and that it has contributed to their success.

While other fall sports may have seen a slight decrease in fan support, Stoup said women’s soccer games have been getting more attention than ever. She said this gives the team a mental boost.

“It’s such a good feeling to be doing well, and being recognized on campus by other sports,” she said. “The congratulations on how we play are really nice.”

Head Coach Eric Kinsey said it has been a baffling season start for the men and that the team should have a better record than 0-6.

“We’ve played really well at times and have probably deserved something out of a few of our games, but we just haven’t gotten the right results yet.”

Kinsey said the team’s main focuses are to keep shape defensively and to maintain possession. Kinsey said that, last week, the team concentrated on making use of possession.

“This past week, we put a lot of emphasis on being more dangerous and creating more scoring chances when we have possession.”

Kinsey said this year’s goal is to reach the postseason conference tournament. They have qualified for the tournament every year since joining the conference in 2007.

“With this being the last year for the conference, we’d love to be in the postseason again.”
Kinsey said the team does not have any big flaws. He said if training and play continues as it has been, they should see the winning results they are looking for.

Kinsey said there is no telling how the next few games will turn out, or whether a first win can be expected, but he said he hopes the team will go on to the field ready to win.

“They will battle to the final whistle every time, and that level of output will eventually yield results for us.”

Kinsey said there are still strong teams on the schedule. He said California University of Pennsylvania and the University of Charleston (W. Va.) are both tough teams.

Pitt-Johnstown won their game against a nationally ranked California team last year, and, this year, they piqued national interest again as they were ranked No. 16 in the nation in Division II preseason polls.

Charleston’s team is ranked 11th in the nation in Division II. Pitt-Johnstown is scheduled to play Charleston next Thursday at home.

Coach Kinsey said every team is tough in division II, and that all conference teams play at a similar level, making every win up for grabs.

“In the current regional rankings, we have played or will play seven of the top 10 teams.”