For the first time in school history the UW-Green Bay men’s soccer (14-2-3) team captured the Horizon League championship, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Phoenix upset No. 23 Butler 3-2 Sunday in Indianapolis in a match settled by penalty kick.
The Phoenix men will head back to Indiana where they will face Notre Dame (10-7-4) at 6:30 p.m. in the tournament’s first round on Thursday.
“It will be a big challenge, Notre Dame is a Big East team and have a good tradition there but our guys will be ready to showcase ourselves on a big stage,” said Phoenix Head Coach Tom Poitras.
This was the third championship game in three years for the Phoenix men, who earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1983.
“This win today isn’t just for our guys but it’s for all the guys that came before this team and helped build this program,” said Poitras.
In the penalty situation against Butler, freshman Ryan Wehking stepped into the goal and made a save on Butler’s first attempt. In Green Bay’s first attempt David Prochazka (Gothenburg, Sweden) laid the ball in the lower right corner of the net. Butler scored on their second attempt to tie it 1-1 before Green Bay’s David Znaty went top shelf to take the 2-1 lead. On the third attempt Butler tied it 2-2 before Francois Basty gave the Phoenix the 3-2 edge. Banks missed Green Bay’s fourth attempt. In Butler’s fifth and final penalty kick attempt, Wehking made a diving save to punch Green Bay’s ticket to the NCAA tournament.
“Ryan performed as if he were a senior (he’s only a freshman) like he has all season, he stepped up in a big situation when we needed it most,” said Poitras. “I actually wasn’t all that nervous, it was more exciting than anything; these are moments I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid,” said Wehking.
Wehking was named tournament MVP while teammates Scott Raymonds (Brookfield, Wis.) David Prochazka and JC Banks were named to the All-Tournament team.