Friday night the Wisconsin men’s soccer team took on defending National Champions Indiana in front of a crowd of more than 1,500 for its Big Ten home opener. The hype of the game would not disappoint as Wisconsin took down Indiana 4-3 in an offensive battle.
The game started off slow as the first half ended with no score for either team. The match was lined up to be another Big Ten defensive slug fest. However, both teams exploded offensively from the start of the second half.
After trading chances back and forth, Indiana struck first with a goal in the 53rd minute. A corner kick fluttered through the box and Indiana forward Tommy Thompson played the ball past redshirt freshman goalkeeper Casey Beyers.
Just two minutes later in the 55th minute, Indiana tallied yet another goal by the foot of Thompson. While junior defender AJ Cochran challenged for a ball at midfield, Tommy Thompson slipped by the Badger defensive and received a through ball from his brother Tanner Thompson. Tommy was able to play the ball low and past Beyers to shock the Wisconsin crowd with his second goal in as many minutes.
“We knew we were not going to give up,” redshirt senior midfielder Tomislav Zadro said. “We are on our home field and we believe we can beat anyone here.”
The Badgers answered in the 66th minute with a brilliant string of passes that found senior forward Toni Ramadani in the middle of the 18-yard box with an open net in front of him. Down only 2-1 now the Badgers could see the magic forming once again over the McClimon Complex.
“When we went down 2-0 it was just one of those things that we know we just have to get one back,” Cochran said. “Once we got one back we were like ‘we’re in this game again.’ Then they got the third and we took a step back.”
The third came just two minutes later off a cross from Indiana midfielder A.J. Corrado. His cross worked its way into the box, past a diving Beyers and to the head of Fe Hollinger-Janzen for his fifth goal of the season.
Down 3-1 the Badgers continued to push and were determined to give Indiana a run toward the end of the game.
Five minutes later, the Badgers found themselves with a good chance to score after being awarded a corner kick. Zadro was able to play a beautiful bending cross into the back post where Cochran connected with his right foot scoring his first goal of the match.
“When we got that second we could just tell from the team that we were going to get the third,” Cochran said. “Once we got the third there was no doubt it my mind we would get the fourth. Everyone knew it once we got the third it was game over.”
The tying goal found its way into the net in the 82nd minute when junior forward Jacob Brindle found himself in front of Indiana goalkeeper Michael Soderlund. A quick move to the outside was all it took for Brindle to break free and place the ball into the net setting of Wisconsin crowd on fire.
After numerous chances the game winner found its way into the net in the 85th minute. Sophomore midfielder Drew Conner played a beautiful corner kick to the back post where Cochran stood waiting. A quick header down by one of the country’s most dominate aerial players would be all it took as the badger crowd and the team erupted.
“Walking up I knew we had a plan to play it to the back post,” Cochran explained. “I was just kind of waiting to see where it was going to come and I jumped up and saw the ball and just redirected it. When I saw it going into the goal I just reacted and ripped my shirt off. Big goal — I had to celebrate.”
The showy move earned Cochran a yellow card but the game was over, Indiana was unable to answer the Badgers’ three straight goals. When the final whistle blew the crowd erupted and overflowed onto the field in an unprecedented show of support.
Head coach John Trask had only a few words for the media after the big win but his quote said it all.
“It was a great win, obviously being an IU guy knowing they are the national champions. They are one heck of a good soccer team and so are the Badgers.”
The win was Wisconsin’s first Big Ten win of the year and will more than likely affect the outcome of the Big Ten title hunt. With the confidence gained from this win, the Badgers look ahead to the remainder of their Big Ten season, with their sights set on a Big Ten title and a bid to the NCAA tournament.