PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Last year, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville men's soccer team narrowly missed an NCAA playoff bid, finishing seventh in the North Region with a 12-6 record. This year, with a team full of experienced players, the Pioneers are back on the hunt for that same bid.
The Pioneers lost six seniors –two of whom were consistent starting defenders– to graduation. With this shift in players comes a change in leadership and guidance for the upcoming season, Enzo Fuschino, the Pioneers' head coach, said.
"Our two senior captains are gone, so we need quality players who work hard and can provide the leadership we need," he said. "I'm excited to see who can do that."
The Pioneers return their entire offense, including Logan Rinderknecht, last year's leading scorer. Other returning players include junior, Tommy Bitter, and Jon Stopple, who was out last season due to an ACL injury. With an all-around healthy team, Fuschino thinks the team has what's needed to chase not only an NCAA bid, but a national ranking as well. Fuschino led the Pioneers to the NCAA playoffs in both 2008 and 2012, advancing to the second round the first time and the third round the next.
"I have positive vibes about this season, but I'm also superstitious," he said. "The players look good on paper, but that's not all that matters. They have to perform well on the field too."
The Pioneers will report to campus on Aug. 18 and begin practicing on Aug. 19. The team will be traveling to New York for the College of Staten Island tournament on Labor Day weekend for their first games of the season. The last time the Pioneers made this trip was in 2012, which is, coincidentally, the last year they received an NCAA bid.
"I don't want to be superstitious about it," Fuschino said. "But, who knows?"
The Pioneers will play their first home game on Sept. 13 against Aurora University. A full schedule of the 2017 Pioneers' season can be found online at athletics.uwplatt.edu/sports/msoc/2017-18/schedule.
Written by: Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications, 608-342-7121, email@example.com