The Wisconsin men’s soccer team (8-8-0, 2-3-0 Big Ten) hits the road for the final time this season when they head to Milwaukee to take on Marquette (5-10-1, 1-6-1 Horizon League) tonight.
The game will be the final contest against an in-state rival for the Badgers, who defeated UW-Milwaukee 2-1 in Madison earlier this season and took down UW-Green Bay 4-1 on the road. In comparison, Marquette defeated UW-GB 3-1, but lost to UW-Milwaukee by the same score. With a win over Marquette, the Badgers can lay claim to the state bragging rights this season after sweeping their in-state opposition.
“Well, I think it’s very important, and obviously it’s something we strive for every year,” head coach Jeff Rohrman said. “There’s such a huge, historic rivalry that goes on between all the Division I programs in the state. Last year we won out, we were 2-1 and won the state, and certainly going into this year one of our goals was to win the state again. And if we beat Marquette, that will be two years in a row for us.”
While Marquette has struggled this season, the Golden Eagles have a quality win at South Florida and lost by just one goal against No. 18 Creighton earlier in the year.
“They’re a tough team to play,” Rohrman said. “They come out with a lot of fight, a lot of team spirit. They’re a very hard-working team. They just knocked off I think No. 11 South Florida the other week. So, they’re not packing it in, that’s for sure.”
Marquette possesses two lethal scorers in senior Chris Lee and sophomore Matt Blouin, who have totaled 20 and 14 points, respectively. The problem for the Golden Eagles is balance, as their next-highest scorer is Mike Manone with only four points.
Marquette has made do with a pair of freshmen in goal, with Steven Grow and Andy Kroll both seeing time. Grow has significantly outplayed Kroll, posting a 1.08 goals against average compared to Kroll’s robust 2.26 average.
Wisconsin will need to avoid overlooking Marquette, with the Badgers’ Big Ten finale Sunday against Northwestern and the Big Ten tournament next Thursday.
“Well, I think in the last four weeks, our team has done a good job in not looking past anyone and taking every game for what it’s worth and going at it the right way,” Rohrman said. “We’ve just taken one at a time, and we’ve gone out and competed well in every one of the games this past month. I would expect us to continue to approach things in that same mindset going into Marquette.”
Despite Marquette’s sub-.500 record this season, Wisconsin will need to be ready for a tough match.
“You can throw the records out when it’s any of the in-state games because it’s just a dogfight every time you play,” Rohrman said. “I think last year was the same way here, and fortunately we got a couple of goals on them and won that game, and hopefully we can prevail again on Wednesday.”