In a battle between in-state rivals on a chilly night at the McClimon Complex, the UW men’s soccer team was downed by UW-Milwaukee 1-0.
The loss snapped several streaks in the rivalry. Wisconsin’s four-game win streak against the Panthers was ended and UWM’s lone goal in the game was also their first in a game against UW since 2007. The Badgers have now been shutout in five games this season. Wisconsin dropped to 3-6-3 on the year.
“It’s really disappointing to lose this type of game at home,” head coach John Trask said. “You can’t win a soccer game if you can’t put the ball over the line.”
Trask praised UW’s ball movement and said the team was creative but lacked the “final touch” needed to tie the game. The teams played to a scoreless tie in the first half and the Badgers outshot the Panthers 10-3 in the second half but failed to knot the score. Wisconsin is 0-3-3 when failing to score two or more goals.
Junior midfielder Nick Janus said the team missed several opportunities to score and lacked an offensive rhythm. Janus said the team has to put together a complete effort on both offense and defense to get back on track.
“We just need to finish. We had the opportunities,” Janus said. “I missed out on a couple myself. It just wasn’t our night.”
The Panthers’ goal came in the 49th minute and was a result of Wisconsin not clearing the ball, Trask said. The goal came after a UW foul gave the Panthers a free kick. The ball was kicked into the Wisconsin box, and players from both teams got a foot on the ball, but Milwaukee’s Jamie Bladen put the ball in the net after it bounced around for several seconds.
“A lot of college goals are scored by failure to clear,” Trask said. “It just seems we’re in a run of play now where when we don’t clear the ball, the ball lands on their foot and they’re able to put it away.”
The in-state nature of the rivalry added an edge to the match. The game appeared to get contentious at different points, with players tangling and a yellow card given to Wisconsin in the 89th minute.
Junior forward Chris Prince said teams within the state always play each other tough regardless of record or talent level.
“Whether it’s Marquette, [UW] Green Bay, or Milwaukee, it’s a derby match. It’s always going to be a lot more physical, a lot more intense,” Prince said. “You have to throw it out the window once we play an in-state team, because it’s that much more intense.”
Janus said many players from the two teams play on the same squad, the Madison 56ers, during the summer. Janus said this familiarity breeds greater competition between the two teams.
Janus was turned away several times by Milwaukee freshman goalkeeper Connor Revsbeck, who was making his first career start for the Panthers.
“Typically you have to have some type of luck on your side, and have the ball bounce your way,” Prince said. “We produced a lot of chances, probably more than normal. It just wasn’t our day today, finishing-wise.”
Prince noted the morale of the team was low following the game. He said the team will need to bring a high-energy focus to lift spirits for the remaining games on the schedule.
According to Trask, the emphasis will now be on regrouping and establishing the team’s offensive identity. The Badgers outshot the opponent for just the second time all season.
“I think they were pretty creative,” Trask said. “I thought the movement was excellent in the final third. We had a couple of dummies, a couple of combinations, a couple of quality services.”
“It just wasn’t meant to be.”
“We’re going to get back on the training field tomorrow and address things we need to address,” Trask said. “Hopefully, psychologically the team is going to be able to continue to rebound.”
The Badgers resume Big Ten play with a home game Saturday against the University of Michigan.