SPRING GREEN — The Platteville/Lancaster boys soccer team has won or shared each of the last three Southwest Wisconsin Conference titles. The Hillmen have designs on making it four straight.
Coach Brandon Pink’s squad opened its title defense with a 5–1 victory at River Valley last Thursday afternoon, but it didn’t come easy.
The Blackhawks played the Hillmen even for nearly the entire first half, before senior Hans Chavez set up classmate Ying Xiong with two minutes left in the first half to break the scoreless tie.
After River Valley (0–1, 0–1 SWC) scored early in the second half, Platteville/Lancaster scored four unanswered goals to pull away for the decisive win.
“Playing River Valley away is always tough for us,” said Pink. “They’re strong every year and they always play us extra hard at home. We knew this game would be a challenge going in.”
Xiong, the reigning SWC Player of the Year, scored a second goal in the 66th minute to make it 3–1, while his freshman brother Kengkue Xiong assisted on a pair of goals in the win.
“We found it tough to get into a rhythm in the first half,” said Pink. “We weren’t playing poorly, but we weren’t playing sharply either. The key to the game was the adjustments we made at halftime. The guys refocused themselves and resolved to go out and play at a higher tempo in the second half. We also made some formation adjustments that allowed our midfield to put Valley under more pressure. We were much more dangerous in the second half, and we were able to punch through some goals early on to take the pressure off ourselves.”
Senior defender Josh Zauche scored on a nice pass from junior Mikey Musarra in the 53rd minute to answer James Kardatzke’s game-tying goal just three minutes earlier.
Senior Ryan Roling scored in the 71st minute on an assist from the younger Xiong to make it 4–1.
Lancaster senior Jon Murphy got in on the scoring with a goal in the 83rd minute.
“I’m so pleased with the group as a whole for the way they played in their first game,” said Pink, who called this the most talented group he has had in his four years leading the program. “We had some question marks going into this season, especially in defense, having graduated so many defenders last year. The guys stepped up and made sure we picked up right where we left off last season. New defenders Stephen Heenan, Logan Weaver, Mikey Musarra and Everett LaBudda all deserve special mention. This was the first game where they had to hold down the defensive line as a unit, and they did a great job.”
Senior goalkeeper Dillon Shinee recorded two saves in the win.
Platteville/Lancaster (1–0, 1–0 SWC) hosted Dodgeville/Mineral Point in its home opener Tuesday afternoon. The Hillmen will now host Prairie du Chien Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m before traveling to Monroe on Friday.
Platteville/Lancaster 5, River Valley 1
(from Thursday, Aug. 25 @ River Valley)
Platteville/Lancaster 1 4 — 5
River Valley 0 1 — 1
First half — P/L: Ying Xiong (Hans Chavez) 43:00.
Second half — P/L: Josh Zauche (Mike Musarra) 53:00, Y. Xiong (Stephen Heehan) 66:00, Ryan Roling (Kengkue Xiong) 71:00, Jon Murphy (K. Xiong) 83:00; RV: James Kardatzke 50:00.
Saves — P/L: Dillon Shinee 2; RV: Noah Hamblen 14. Shots — P/L: 25; D/MP: 16. Shots on Goal — P/L: 19; RV: 3.