The University of Wisconsin-Platteville was unable to keep up with North Park Sunday night as the Pioneers were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament with a 6-1 loss. Nick Hoklas scored his second goal of the season and Nate Miller recorded five saves.
The Pioneers (12-4-2) found themselves in a hole early on as the Vikings (18-1-1) put up three goals in the first 17 minutes. UW-Platteville worked to play catch up and finally capitalized with just 19 seconds left in the first half. After a foul by North Park, Hoklas sent a free kick from 35 yards out that skimmed off the outreached hands of the Vikings keeper and into the goal.
North Park, the number 12 team in the country, scored three more times in the second half to reach the 6-1 final.
Coach Enzo Fuschino's Pioneers' end the season with their best record since the last time they made the NCAA Tournament in 2012. After losing their first game of the season UW-Platteville went on to win eight straight contests, the third longest streak in school history. Jon Stopple and Logan Rinderknecht also teamed up to become the first duo to each score 18 or more points since 2012. In their 5-0 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Brad Strobel recorded the first hat-trick for the Pioneers since 2011. Nate Miller tied for the fifth most shutouts in school history with seven.
The season saw several hard fought games including their matchup with Marion that over 400 fans came out to celebrate Yell Night. Freshman Gabe Tovar sent the crowd home happy with his only goal of the season to give UW-Platteville a 2-1 overtime victory. The Pioneers also returned the Shaymus Guinn Cup to Platteville with a thrilling 3-2 win over UW-Whitewater, a game that essentially sealed their bid into the NCAA Tournament.
"What a season! This group of kids has been fantastic. Hard work, commitment, passion and dedication (on and off the field) paid off. We have come close the last couple of years, but this year was special. We played a tough schedule against some very good teams and every game was a battle. Our guys kept digging in, played for each other, came in to pre-season with a goal and were very determined to achieve it. Our last game vs rival Whitewater is proof. We made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament but then fell to the best team I have seen in years. We say thank you to our three seniors who have represented this school and soccer program with pride and dedication. I am already looking forward to the next season as the future looks bright with a number of talented returners!"