Men’s soccer loses in WIAC semifinal

he Pioneer men’s soccer team (7-9-3) fought hard against the No. 5 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (15-0-4) throughout their first game in the WIAC semifinal on Nov. 6 but fell in a 2-1 decision, ending the Pioneer season.

 

University of Wisconsin-Platteville junior Mbodje Sarr scored the first goal in the 20th minute off an assist from senior Michael Prudisch.

 

The Pioneers maintained the upper hand for much of the first half.

 

With 40 seconds left in the half, the Titans were awarded a penalty kick after the Pioneers’ senior goalkeeper Ian Christensen received a yellow card.

 

Titan Jan Nachtigall scored on the penalty kick, tying the game 1-1 going into halftime.

 

Both teams continued to fight tooth-and-nail to break the tie but failed to do so in regulation.

 

In the first overtime, the Pioneers dominated the Titans’ end of the field, out-shooting UW-Oshkosh 6-2.

 

However, they struggled finding the opportunity to score a game-winning goal.

 

With 32 seconds left in the second overtime, UW-Oshkosh found their opportunity and snatched the victory when Titan Tony Starnes scored in the 109th minute.

 

Sophomore center back Will Pretto discussed the team’s overall performance against the undefeated UW-Oshkosh, ranked fifth in the nation.

 

“I thought we had a lot of success,” Pretto said. “Overall, as a defense, we were very solid and had a great, dynamic offense. We did a pretty good job of communicating and keeping them out of the dangerous areas.”

 

The Pioneers have had their share of overtime games this year, with four other matches needing extra time to be decided, but the team went 0-2-3 in their overtime contests.

 

“We gave them a good fight, but we kind of had some breakdowns that led to their chances,” Pretto said. “I thought we out-played them in the first overtime, but at the end, we kind of faltered a little bit.”

 

Head coach Enzo Fuschino reflected on the Pioneers’ season, while maintaining a positive mentality regarding preparation for next year.

 

“Last night’s game was a good way to end the season. It was probably not what we wanted in the season, but it was good to finish up strong,” Fuschino said. “It gave us confidence, especially for the younger players. I think they’re very determined.”

 

Fuschino also focused on some of the aspects that the Pioneers need to improve on in order to enhance game-winning strategies and finish strong at the end of every game.

 

“[We need to improve on] our lack of finishing. We had chances but didn’t finish them, and you need to score goals to win games in soccer,” Fuschino said. “We’re kind of a young team, so we have some inexperience; the game reflected some of the inexperience, but I think we’re doing the right things. We played evenly with everybody, but we have to learn how to manage games better at the end.”

 

Although the Pioneers’ season has ended, Fuschino already has some specific goals in mind in order to improve and progress throughout future seasons.

 

“We want to get back into the NCAA Tournament, like we did last year and four years ago, and we want to make that a regular occurrence,” Fuschino said.

 

“All the ingredients are there. We have the talent and the quality. The players will be a little older next year, so [they will be] a little bit more experienced,” Fuschino said. “We had a very tough schedule this year, but we have a lot of bright, strong, young players coming up, so I’m pretty optimistic for the future.”

 

UW-Platteville ended the year with a 7-9-3 record overall and went 1-4 in WIAC play.