Commanding performances this week resulted in a 1-1 draw to UW-Milwaukee and a 1-0 win over Big Ten rival Michigan State for the University of Wisconsin’s men’s soccer team. The results allowed the Badgers to get a bump in the polls, propelling them into the top 25 once again.
After playing ranked teams back-to-back the Badgers will face a less recognized opponent Wednesday as they take on Eastern Illinois Oct. 30.
Eastern Illinois has had a rough season so far. With only one senior on the squad the young team has struggled in many aspects. The Panthers are 1-11-2 on the season and a staggering 0-7-0 on the road and their lone win coming on Oct. 20 against Oral Roberts.
In their seven road games this year the Panthers have lost by a combined score of 8-22, with half of their goals coming in one game, a 5-4 loss, to Indiana University-Evansville. After being shut out their last two games, Eastern Illinois will be looking to steal one against the 23rd-ranked Badgers.
In contrast, the Badgers have been lights out at home. Wisconsin has won every game in the McClimon Complex dating back to last season, and their wins have come in every shape and form. The Badgers scored a last-second goal forced overtime against DePaul, they successfully rallied against Indiana and they fought off comebacks from Drake and Western Michigan. The Badgers home field has become a fortress for the 10-3-2 Badgers.
The fortress has yielded wins against top-ranked opponent’s No.18 Marquette and No.22 Michigan State, as well as a statement win against last year’s defending national champions Indiana. The wins will surely look good when the selection committee meets to determine the at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament later this fall.
The Wisconsin squad, led by its four senior captains, has been solid all season all over the field. As always, keep an eye on Tomislav Zadro, Drew Conner and Nick Janus on the offensive end of the field. The Badgers will be itching to get back to their goal-scoring ways after scoring just one goal in each of the last four games.
If the game is going in favor of the Badgers, expect to see a lot of young players step up and sub in during the second half. Joe Naughton, Nick Jones and Anders Kristensen have all caught minutes this season, and it is likely head coach John Trask will reward them with a bit more playing time in an easier matchup.
The game may also shed some light on the goalkeeper battle that has been brewing. After the loss to Michigan on Oct. 20, Casey Beyers has been pulled from the field in favor of senior Max Jentsch.
According to Trask, the move was made to reward Jentsch for his hard work in practice. Since taking the job, he has allowed only one goal to UW-Milwaukee and was able to record a shutout against Michigan State on Sunday.
For Wisconsin this is a must win game. Any result other than a win will hurt the Badgers chances of making an NCAA tournament run, while simultaneously ruining the magic of the McClimon Complex.