“Young team mistakes” down Pioneers

he University of Wisconsin-Platteville men’s soccer team fell two games below .500 on the year after two home losses to Wartburg and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

 

The Pioneers lost 2-0 to Wartburg on Oct. 23, as the team struggled to convert scoring chances.

 

Entering the game, the Pioneers were focused on being aggressive when they had the ball.

 

“We were focused on attacking their back line and we did well until their first goal,” Pioneer head coach Enzo Fuschino said.

 

The game was an intense defensive effort throughout the first half, but UW-Platteville stuck to the game plan, taking more shots than Wartburg.

 

The teams went into halftime tied 0-0.

 

In the 53rd minute, the Pioneers fell behind 1-0 from a 20-yard shot by Wartburg’s Chris Nothnick.

 

“There were a couple breakdowns which they were able to capitalize on,” sophomore Caleb Sedlacek said.

 

Sedlacek, along with a few other players, have had to transition to playing different positions this season. Sedlacek had to play center midfield and defense.

 

“I play a little different when I’m defensive-minded; I can’t take as many risks and have to play safer,” Sedlacek said.

 

In the 64th minute, Wartburg’s Zach Smith scored from 15 yards out, putting the score at 2-0 with just under 25 minutes left on the clock.

 

Despite encouragement from Streich, the Knights kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard.

 

“We need to work on our confidence; they are playing well,” Fuschino said. “We need to stay focused and finish strong,”

 

Against UW-Oshkosh, the Pioneers fell 3-1, as mistakes on defense ended any chance for the comeback late in the second half.

 

In the first half, the action was back-and-forth for the first 20 minutes. Both teams were getting shots on goal, as the first two Pioneer attempts went over the net and wide right.

 

UW-Oshkosh was controlling most of the action though and had two scoring chances off corner kicks, which were stopped by senior goalkeeper Ian Christensen.

 

With 3:22 left in the first half, the Titans struck for a goal, as Tanner Freund knocked a ball past Christensen from five yards out to put UW-Oshkosh ahead 1-0.

 

At the half, the score remained 1-0.

 

An aggressive UW-Platteville team came out firing in the second half with junior Mbodje Sarr tying the game in the 60th minute when he chipped the ball over the Titan goalkeeper’s head.

 

“I saw the ball in front of me and I saw the defenders not communicating very well so I went all-out speed and tried to put my foot on the ball and luckily I got it,” Sarr said.

 

UW-Oshkosh responded with a relentless attack, eventually pulling ahead of the Pioneers in the 67th minute after Christensen was unable to corral a ball away from a Titan player in the goalie box, and Jacob Hernandez blasted it through.

 

The Pioneers’ offense pushed hard to find another equalizer, but the Titan defense continually kept the Pioneers out of the offensive zone.

 

After a through-ball from Kirby Allen, Jan Nachtigall beat Christensen for the Titans third goal, essentially putting the match away for good.

 

“We’re a young team, and we made mistakes of inexperience, like on their first goal,” Fuschino said. “We’re giving ourselves good chances that we need to finish, and we need to play better in the final third of the game.”

 

The match was Senior Day for the Pioneers, as the team recognized seniors Christensen, Jake Coxey, Cameron Weess and Michael Prudisch.

 

“They’ve meant the world to this squad,” Fuschino said. “All four of them have given so much to the program, and I wish we would have been able to send them off on Senior Day on a higher note.”

 

The seniors’ impact has not been lost on their teammates.

 

“They’re role models; the whole team looks up to those guys,” Sarr said. “They’re our leaders on and off the field, and it’s been an amazing experience to play with them.”

 

The Pioneers play tonight at Coe College in their final regular game of the season.