DUBUQUE, Iowa – Mike Pizzello has experienced a lot of winning on soccer fields.
The Timothy Christian grad was a part of the Trojans’ state championship team in 2009 and the runner up squad in 2008. After graduating, the Elmhurst native joined another successful program in Loras College.
Pizzello, currently a junior for Loras, has gone to the Division III Final Four with the Hawks the past two seasons. Loras has won the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Conference tournament in each of Pizzello’s three years, and the Hawks have amassed a 59-7-7 record.
“Ever since the start of the season we were very confident again that we would be able to put ourselves in a good spot,” Pizzello said.
The defender/midfielder played a big role in the Hawks’ postseason success. In addition to playing in every game this season, Pizzello scored the game-winning goal in the quarterfinal win against Trinity. The Hawks trailed 1-0 at halftime, but scored twice in the second half to win 2-1. Pizzello headed in the game-winner off a corner kick.
“I can’t really describe how I was feeling,” Pizzello said. “It was really unbelievable that I was in the right position at the right time. I was able to get my head on the ball to give us the lead in that game.”
The Hawks ended up falling in the Final Four for the second year in a row. Last year, it was an overtime defeat to eventual champion Messiah College. On Dec. 6, they lost 3-2 to Rutgers-Camden. Loras led 2-1 before Rutgers-Camden equalized with 2:30 to go in regulation and went on to win in overtime.
Pizzello will have one more year to push for a national title with the Hawks, and will draw on past experience to help make it happen. He fondly remembers his high school days when Timothy Christian got over the hump to win the state title.
“Just being a part of a small school that didn’t really get a lot of recognition in soccer and wasn’t really a part of that state recognition stage,” Pizzello said, “and bringing them onto that stage and winning a state championship and getting there two years in a row was good.”