"This was an incredible season, marked by many broken records. It was a season the players will never forget," said University of Wisconsin-Platteville soccer coach Enzo Fuschino.
The Pioneer men's soccer team began its season like any other and finished it as one of the best seasons in program history, making it to the Sweet 16, the farthest a UW-Platteville soccer team has ever gone in the national tournament.
After Sept. 11, 2012, they captured their first regional ranking since 2008, eighth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire NCAA Division III Men's North Regional Rankings. The team proved its ranking outscoring its first six opponents by a 19-3 margin.
Capturing the conference title was only too sweet after significant wins over UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater.
The team moved its way up through the national rankings as high as 13, leading them to a national bid. Their first round game of the NCAA Division III tournament was against the Gustavus Aldophus Gusties. After a scoreless 120 minutes, the game was decided by penalty kicks. Goalkeeper Ian Christensen, a junior from Oregon, Wis., dove to his right and was able to knock away the Gusties' shot and secure the victory for his team. The Pioneers advanced to play Carroll University and won the match 2-1 to advance to the Sweet 16 and face the nationally fourth ranked Loras College.
"The support we received at the Loras Duhawks versus UW-Platteville game was incredible. It gave us the strength to represent the university in a very positive way," said Fuschino.
Earlier in the season, the Pioneers won the match against Loras, handing the Duhawks their only loss of the season. "We knew going into this match that we had a good chance to go forward in the tournament," said Fuschino.
The Duhawks took an early lead, scoring a goal nine minutes into in the first-half. Soon after in the 34th-minute, UW-Platteville's Chris Brown, a senior from McFarland, Wis., made a free kick to tie up the game. In the second half, Loras scored in the 64th-minute leading to the end of the Pioneers run in the national tournament in front of 1,200 fans in Dubuque, Iowa.
The Pioneers finished with a 15-4-2 record season — one of the best in the program's history, with many players earning WIAC, All-Wisconsin State team and NSCAA North Region postseason honors.
Fuschino was selected as the WIAC Coach of the Year and North Region Coach of the Year from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division III.
Brandon Chmiel, a senior forward from Jackson, Wis., was named WIAC co-offensive player of the year and led the conference in goals, assists, points and game winning goals. Chmiel earned NSCAA all-region honors and was named All-Wisconsin player of the year with 14 goals, eight assists, 36 points and six game winning goals.
Brown, a mid-fielder, earned first-team all conference and NSCAA all-region honors and first-team all-state for his two goals in the NCAA DIII tournament.
Christensen and defender Michael Prudisch from Verona, Wis., earned NSCAA all-region and first team all-state honors.
Prudisch also earned WIAC defensive player of the year. He anchored the defense that allowed just 15 goals and a WIAC best 11 shutouts.
Forward, Mark Ciszewski, a senior from Germantown, Wis., rounded out the Pioneer all-state award winners earning honorable mention, as well as, second team all-WIAC.
Written by: Eileen McGuine, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications