• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Joe Jessup lifts Midway over Point Park in RSC quarters

JOE JESSUP was named to the All-River States Conference Men's Soccer Second Team in the team’s inaugural season. (Photo by Midway Univ. Athletics)

In just its first season of play, the Midway University men’s soccer team began postseason play Saturday, Nov. 5, when it hosted Point Park (Pa.) in the River States Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament Quarterfinals at the Midway Soccer Field. It was a hard-fought game between the Eagles and the Pioneers, and the two teams seemed destined to send the game into overtime. But then, with just two seconds remaining in regulation, Midway’s senior captain, Joe Jessop, came to the rescue and scored a goal to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory. On the play, the Pioneers had cleared the ball out on defense, but the ball made its way to the feet of Jessop. The Lincoln, England, native then one-timed it with just the right pace from about 30 yards out and watched the ball fly into the back of the net to give the Eagles the 1-0 victory. With that win, Midway is 10-7-1 on the season. The Eagles finished their inaugural regular season 9-7-1 overall and 6-2 in the River States Conference. The game was eerily similar to when the two teams previously met on Oct. 6. The Eagles went on to win that game after junior Max Bristow scored a golden goal in the 93rd minute. For the game, the Eagles held a 9-8 advantage in shots, including a 3-2 upper-hand in shots on goal. Each team had their chances throughout the game, but they were few and far between as it was a physical defensive battle throughout the match. A total of eight cards were handed out in the match; six of the eight were against the Pioneers. The Eagles’ best chance to score in the opening stanza was also off the foot of Jessop in the 38th minute. He took a free kick from the corner of the 18-yard box and it looked as though it was destined for the back of the net, but the ball bounced off the crossbar and out of play. Neither team scored in the first half as the teams headed to the locker rooms for the break. In the first half, the Eagles held a 4-3 advantage in shots, including a 1-0 advantage in shots on goal. The second half featured many tense moments, but each team’s goalkeeper stood tall to keep the game scoreless. Fireworks began to fly in the 79th minute when the Pioneers were called for three cards, including a red card that forced them to play a man down for the final 10 minutes. The one-man advantage finally paid dividends for the Eagles late in the game in the 89th minute, as Jessop netted the game-winning goal with two seconds remaining. Picking up the victory in goal for the Eagles was junior goalkeeper Christian Neira. The Santiago, Chile, native collected his fifth shutout of the season playing all 90 minutes in goal while making two saves. Postseason honors The Midway University men’s soccer team had four players take home either first or second team all-conference honors according to an announcement by the conference office on Friday, Nov. 4. Both the first team and the second team were comprised of 14 individuals. Junior striker Brad Wilson, was named to the All-RSC first team. Wilson, a junior from Doncaster, England, led the Eagles in goals and assists this season. He finished with 10 goals and five assists totaling a team-high 25 points for the season. He also led Midway in shots (63) and shots on goals (35). Wilson ranks in the top five in the conference in both shots per game and shots on goal per game. He also ranks in the nation in both categories. Wilson was named the River States Conference Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week on Oct.16. Named to the RSC second team was senior captain Joe Jessop, and the junior duo of Harry Kirwan and Christian Neira. Jessop finished out the regular season with five goals and four assists totaling 14 points. He also kicked in a team-high three game-winning goals and finished the season on a strong note scoring four goals in the final three games. Jessop ranks fourth in the River States in both game winning goals (3) and game winning goals per game (0.19). He also ranks in the nation in game-winning goals. Kirwan was one of the leaders in the backline defense for the Eagles. Kirwan was not only heavily involved in the defense, but late in the year became a force on offense, scoring one goal and getting three assists. Kirwan started in all 17 games and was a part of the Eagles’ defense that finished the season with six shutouts. Neira, Midway’s goalkeeper, finished the regular season with a 9-6-1 record overall. He started all 17 games in for the Eagles and had 78 saves and four shutouts on the season. Neira ranks second in the conference in saves, and third in saves per game with 4.59. He also ranks in the nation in total saves. The River States Conference Men’s Soccer Champions of Character team was also named with one player from each team chosen who best represents the five core character values of the NAIA’s Champions of Character program, which are: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship. Representing the Eagles on the team was Jessop. On the women’s team, two players – Kindsay Miller-Riney and Larissa Cussins – took home All-Conference honors after the River States Conference released the 2016 All-RSC Women’s Soccer Teams on Friday, Nov. 4. Leading the way throughout the season was junior striker Kindsay Miller-Riney. A Bardstown native, she finished her season with 21 goals and five assists totaling 47 points. She also kicked in three game-winning goals. Miller-Riney ranks in the top five in 10 different statistical categories in the conference. She is leading in six, including: points, points per game (3.13), goals, goals per game (1.40), shots per game (5.07) and shots on goal per game (3.40). Not only do Miller-Riney’s numbers rank among the best in the conference, but also on the national level. She ranks in the top-20 in six different statistical categories, including goals per game (fourth), points per game (fourth), goals per game (fifth), total goals (ninth), total points (10th) and shots per game (18th). Miller-Riney was named the River States Conference Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week four times throughout the season. She also gained national recognition by being named the NAIA National Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 27. Freshman midfielder Larissa Cussins was also named to the RSC first team. A native of Cheyenne, Wyo., she finished her first season with five goals and four assists totaling 14 points. The freshman ranks in the top-10 in four different categories in the RSC. She is tied for sixth in both assists and assists per game (0.27), while ranking tied for 10th in points and points per game (0.93). Representing Midway on the RSC Women’s Soccer Champions of Character team was senior goalkeeper Lauren Schuster. (Information provided by Dylan Brown/Midway Univ. Sports Information)

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