Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Future is very uncertain for men’s soccer

In 2001, the men’s soccer team finished 10-8-1 overall, the best record in five seasons under coach Kalekeni Banda at Wisconsin.

However, even with this record, the season could also be characterized as one of the most disappointing of the Banda era because of the opportunities missed and the overall lack of consistency.

The season started fantastically for UW as they jumped out to a 5-0-0 start, including a couple of quality victories. But then their season hit a huge wall. Their first loss was on the road to No. 1 Southern Methodist University, where they fell 6-0. Being the No.1 team in the nation, the game dropped to SMU was a very excusable loss. But as the losses mounted, injuries occurred and the team went into a funk.

After getting a win over Texas Christian University to up their record to 6-1-0, the Badgers won only once in their next eight matches.

Many of those games were against tough opponents in the Big Ten, but some losses were dreadful. After losing at Northern Illinois University, a team that finished 4-12-1 overall, Wisconsin was 7-7-1, including 0-3-0 in the Big Ten.

The Badgers then seemed to get hot at the right time. They finished their regular season with three Big Ten wins to even their conference mark at 3-3-0.

Two of those victories were against Michigan State (12-5-1 overall) and Ohio State (10-6-2 overall), quality wins for a program headed in the right direction.

They ended their regular season 10-7-1, including 3-3-0 in the Big Ten, and earned the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament, which they hosted and entered with a lot of momentum.

But the Badgers’ season ended abruptly, as they were upset 1-0 in the opening round of the tournament by Michigan. UW seemingly outplayed the Wolverines throughout the game but could not get the big goal when it counted.

Their season ended at 10-8-1. In Banda’s five seasons as head coach, UW has yet to win a Big Ten tournament game.

Many Badgers had fantastic individual performances throughout the season.

Seniors Dominic DaPra and Scott Repa were named all-Big-Ten first team. DaPra led the Big Ten with 15 goals and 34 points. In his two seasons at Wisconsin after transferring from St. Louis, DaPra is in the top five all-time at UW in numerous categories, including points and goals. He can be considered Banda’s best pickup in his five seasons as head coach at Wisconsin.

Repa has been a solid force in the defensive backfield for Wisconsin throughout his four years in school. Out of 76 games played during his career here, he has started 71 of them. He also contributed at times to the offensive charge.

Other seniors will be missed greatly for their contributions to UW soccer. Aaron Lauber was a former walk-on who blossomed brilliantly this season as DaPra’s right-hand-man on offense, finishing second on the team with 11 goals scored, including a record-tying four in one game.

Goalkeeper Moriba Baker had an injury-plagued, up-and-down season but finished as one of the top goalkeepers in UW history.

Captain Mike Congiu also battled injuries while playing solid defense.

With all these players leaving, there are many question marks going into next season.

The key might be senior Valentine Anozie. He was a captain this season, but never played due to injury. He was redshirted and has one season left. If he chooses to come back, he will be the unquestioned leader of the team.

Other players will be counted on heavily to contribute. Freshmen David Martinez and Nick Van Sicklen became major contributors to the offense at the end of the year, and will be looked upon to carry the load next season.

Whoever plays goalkeeper will also have big shoes to fill due to the graduation of Baker.

This season could have been the breakout year with such a senior oriented group of players. But overall, UW was just 4-7-1 against teams with winning records and 0-4-0 against ranked teams.

There will be a lot of pressure on Banda next season as he tries to take the next logical step with a program that is very young and has lost a lot of talent.
His personal style of soccer seems to have become immersed in the program, but this has yet to translate into many quality victories. The program faces a lot of uncertainty and must move forward.
Next season is quite possibly Banda’s, and UW soccer’s, most pivotal season since he took over in 1997.

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