For the second consecutive game, the Wisconsin men’s soccer team failed to pull out a midweek victory.
After a 2-2 draw against Marquette last Wednesday, this week’s matchup left the Badgers with a 3-1 defeat handed to them by the University of Illinois-Chicago. UW head coach Kalekeni Banda felt the team’s below-average performance was due in part to their busy schedules during the week.
He acknowledges they made too many mistakes while also not taking advantage of their opportunities. However, he believes they struggled for the second time in as many games because players have too much to deal with during the week.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s because it’s a midweek game,” Banda said. “The last two midweek games we have struggled. We struggled against Marquette and we struggled tonight. We thought we could finish our play against Marquette today, but obviously we didn’t.”
Senior forward Dominic DaPra echoed this notion. He feels players are less relaxed than during a weekend game where nothing else seems to matter. When faced with games midweek, players often have to juggle their commitment to the team with their obligation to school and the exams that come along with classes.
Players dedicate their entire day prior to home games to classes and studying before meeting with the team in the afternoon. By early evening, the players have begun preparing for the game at the McClimon Soccer Complex.
Though Banda stressed this as an important factor in the Badgers’ struggle during recent midweek games, most players don’t feel it is quite so significant. DaPra suggests that the players are used to dealing with the pressure, especially the veteran players on the team. Entering a busy time during the academic school year, many players may soon be faced with a significant amount of exams and papers.
“It is tough,” DaPra said. “I had four classes today. I started at 8:50 a.m., had team meal at 3:00, and then are out here on the field by 5 p.m. It’s a long day, but you don’t think about it too much once you get on the field. I think the coaches worry about it more than we do.”
Banda does worry, and noted that his Badger squad never really finished their game against Marquette last week. He was looking for the team to do so today against the visiting Flames of UIC. Though UW controlled the game, they seemed sluggish as they failed to take advantage of numerous goal-scoring opportunities. This may be a direct result of the team’s recent struggles during midweek games.
On a positive note for Banda and his squad, their next game will be played this Friday. They will be on the road for a critical match up with UW-Milwaukee. DaPra stated the magnitude of this game against the instate rival.