In front of an announced Homecoming Weekend crowd of 1,512 (a season high), the Wisconsin Badger men’s soccer team was able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the defending NCAA champions, the Indiana Hoosiers, 4-3 Friday night.
The Badger-magic was in the air once again as the team captured its first Big Ten victory of the season and extended its unbeaten streak at the McClimon Complex to nine (8-0-1), dating back to last season.
Home field has certainly been an advantage, with the Badgers’ unbeaten streak at home being by far the longest in the Big Ten — the next closest team is Michigan State and its three-home-game-winning streak — and the team knows that its recent success would not be possible without the fans.
“[The atmosphere] was awesome,” junior defenseman AJ Cochran, who scored two goals including the game-winner on Friday night, said after the game. “We’ve never had an atmosphere like this before and it helped us win the game, plain and simple.”
For anyone who has played a sport before, the notion of a home crowd being the difference in a game is not far-fetched. One goal has decided all four regular season games at McClimon (plus one exhibition game), meaning that the games have yet to fail entertaining attendees and the home crowd has been vital in the team’s success.
“Tonight was an unbelievable comeback,” senior co-captain Tomislav Zadro said after the game. “We keep on doing this and it shows that we never give up. We believe that we can beat anybody here.”
That never-give-up attitude was in full effect at McClimon on Friday night during the Badgers’ comeback for the ages. The Badgers knew if they could cut the lead from 2-0 to 2-1, then they could find themselves back in the game. That’s exactly what they did. When the Hoosiers scored another goal to make it 3-1, the Badgers had to dig deep.
“We dug deep and found the strength to get that second goal,” Cochran said. “When we got that second goal you could just tell from the vibe of the team that we were going to get the third. Once we got the third, the game was ours. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to get the fourth; everyone knew it.”
If the Badgers continue at the pace they are going at now, no other team in the country may be willing to come to Madison for an elimination game in tournament play. The team laid out goals at the beginning of the season and one of them was to host a NCAA Tournament game at McClimon. If that comes to fruition, it’s difficult not to like their odds.