As the season wears on for the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team, some players have stepped it up and have become more a part of the team. David Martinez is one of those players.
The redshirt freshman from Kansas has been heard from little during the season, but he has become a much bigger part of the offense in recent weeks.
“When he first came in, he would make one run and be a little bit tired,” head coach Kalekeni Banda said. “But he took the challenge upon himself to get stronger.”
To be fair, Martinez has been playing behind players like senior forwards Aaron Lauber and Dominic DaPra, who are 1-2 on the team in scoring. But like any team that goes through the grind of a tough season, different players take on different roles as the season goes on.
“It was hard for me to get in there, because they’ve paid their dues to this team,” Martinez said. “But now I’m like an offensive midfielder in that I get to shoot a lot and help set them up more.”
Looking at the last two games just shows how Martinez has improved. Before last Friday’s game against IUPUI, Martinez had seven shots on goal and an assist for the season. But against the Jaguars he tallied three shots, which was second on the team, and he also assisted on freshman forward Nick Van Sicklen’s goal.
Then on Sunday at Michigan, Martinez led the team with three shots on goal and scored the only Badger goal of the game (assisted by senior midfielder Leron Gabriel) in Wisconsin’s 2-1 setback. He came off the bench in both those games, but that might be changing.
“There is a real good chance he will start this weekend,” Banda said. “We reward people on this team who work hard.”
With his great play on the field last weekend, Martinez is now tied for third on the team with 13 shots on goal and is also tied for third with five points.
Still winless in the Big Ten: One cause for concern in recent weeks has been the Badgers’ inability to gain their first Big Ten victory of the season. They are currently 0-3 in the Big Ten and get another chance this Sunday at home against Michigan State.
“We need to play at the Big Ten tempo, and we have not yet done that this season,” Banda said. “Michigan was more ready to play than we were [on Sunday] because they controlled the tempo right from the start.”
After Michigan State, the Badgers still have a Big Ten game at Northwestern before closing the conference regular season at home against Ohio State.
Veterans and Rookies lead team:
As the season starts to wind down, it is very apparent that the Badgers’ are led by the senior and freshman class, and very little in the middle. The top six point scorers on the team are either seniors or freshman, as well as starting goalkeeper Moriba Baker, who is a senior.
“This team is definitely a split between young and old,” Banda said. “We will go as far as our young guys survive this season.”
Injuries Hurting Badgers:
Senior forward and UW’s leading scorer Dominic DaPra has been nursing a deep thigh bruise that he suffered two weeks ago in the Indiana game. He played sparingly Friday night against IUPUI, but came back to play the entire game at Michigan on Sunday.
“I’m a little bit banged up still,” DaPra said. “But I will definitely be playing this weekend.”
The Badgers also learned on Tuesday they will be without the services of freshman defenseman Joe Anderson for the remainder of the season. Anderson, who started the previous 14 games for Wisconsin, is suffering from mononucleosis.