The UW men’s soccer team looks to finish off strong in its spring season, and despite coming off a disappointing loss to rival Marquette last weekend, the team is ready and focused to move forward.
The young team looks toward its veteran players, like junior Arnel Zahirovic, for leadership and the necessary motivation to continue its growth and improvement in the future.
“I am here to be the middle man between the coaches and the players because I understand a lot of what the coaches are wanting from us, and I feel like as a player I can lead by example; being a mentor and coach to the guys as well as a teammate,” Zahirovic said.
Although the team has experienced its share of struggles this
spring season, whether it be battling poor weather or just inexperience, the guys are starting to communicate effectively and hope to see the results in scoring goals this spring.
“We have taken great strides this spring, and a lot of things have been starting to click for us. I think our passing has become a lot more crisp and precise,” junior Colin Mani said.
Although the Badgers have taken great strides on the field, they have also done so off the field, improving team chemistry through inter-squad scrimmages and practices. Remaining focused day in and day out still remains a key to success.
Being both mentally and physically prepared for the game are the main tasks for the Badgers. The upperclassman feel that through their rigorous spring training they are more than ready for the physical game, but continuing to work on a strong collective mentality will be another focal point.
“We have been training hard this whole spring, so there is no doubt that we are physically fit for it, but I think just getting there mentally, being strong, being confident in ourselves,” Zahirovic said.
The Badgers are not only looking toward veteran leadership, but toward leadership as a whole. It is going to be important to see integration and growth between the underclassman and the upperclassman.
“The biggest thing is getting these younger guys to step up into the leadership role as well,” Mani said. “The underclassmen need to be right there on the same level as us in order for us to have success and be able to achieve higher goals.”
Ready for tough competition
Next on the Badgers slate will be North American Soccer League team NSC Minnesota. Playing a professional-level team can bring its own set of challenges, but the Badgers look to gain insight and experience from the opportunity.
“It’s an experience game, the guys will take away both individually and collectively what 25-year-old professional players look like,” head coach John Trask said. “It is just a great opportunity for our guys to play against a very high level team in comparison to who we are right now.”
The Badgers then move ahead to their last event of the spring season ending with the Wisconsin Cup tournament to be played at Marquette. It will be all four Division I in-state rivalries (Wisconsin, Marquette, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay) vying for a one-day championship.
“This is the end of the year, you let everything go, you give everything you have; the in-state rivalry really gets guys going a lot and gets their adrenaline going more,” Mani said.
The tournament is an exciting way for the Badgers to end their spring season going into summer. The team hopes it will give them an idea of where they stand in the state.
Although unsure of whom they will be playing yet in the tournament, they are expecting to produce strong play regardless of the opponent. The Badgers are hoping for a great outcome to conclude the spring season strong.
“It is the culmination of our spring. You want to be top dog in your state, and how we do it is by winning the Wisconsin Cup,” junior Colin Monastario said.
The coaches are also looking forward to seeing what the Wisconsin Cup can teach them about the team’s play and help them focus their efforts for the fall. They hope to gain some insight into strengths and further areas to improve.
“It is a great opportunity to finish the spring; it should be a lot of fun,” Trask said. “Everybody will get a chance to show themselves one last time for the coaching staff before we adjourn for the summer.”