It was a tale of two games.
While the Badgers weren’t able to produce a win at McClimon in their home opening weekend, they looked like two completely different teams between their Friday night game against San Diego Sate University and their tournament finale on Sunday against Dayton University.
Walking away with a 0-0 tie against Dayton in a physical game wasn’t exactly what the Badgers were hoping for, but they played like a well-rounded team. They just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“I’m content with it right now to get a result, to get the tie,” senior captain and midfielder Aaron Nichols said. “We still have to figure out how to score some goals and give our defense a little bit of a break. They did a phenomenal job though getting the shut out for us and holding out all 110 minutes.”
The stat sheet may only show Wisconsin had three shots on goal, but it kept momentum throughout the game, controlling the ball on Dayton’s half of the field, producing multiple scoring opportunities.
“I thought we played well in the first half and I thought we played well in the second half,” head coach John Trask said. “We dominated a Dayton program that historically is a pretty good program.”
After 90 minutes the scoreboard didn’t reflect the Badgers’ domination, pushing the game into overtime. With three minutes left in the first overtime, Dayton’s midfielder Marlon Duran drew a red card. Wisconsin still wasn’t able to capitalize on the man-advantage through a second overtime, ending the game in a goalless tie.
“Everybody thinks it’s some huge numerical advantage, it’s only one guy of 11,” Trask said. “A lot of times the game will turn the other way because they all pick up their energy level. I thought we did a good job. They didn’t get any chances in overtime.
“We’re evolving. We learned some good lessons today.”
Overall, the Badgers just looked like a different team compared to their Friday night performance.
Nichols attributes the style change to increased intensity and the desire to make a statement.
“I think that was a huge part of it just trying to get more shots,” Nichols said. “We came out confident, we came out with intensity. We wanted to go out and play and we wanted to make a statement. It’s tough going down four losses, losing those early goals. We wanted to come out and not lose an early goal and come out with intensity. That’s what everyone did and it was tremendous.”
Before the Badgers revealed their domination Sunday, in Friday night’s game against the Aztecs the squad just couldn’t seem to put a strong and consistent offensive attack together.
For their home opener in front of 1,022 fans, the Badgers were hoping for a very different result.
“It was a great crowd that we had tonight, that was a big thing,” senior captain and goalkeeper Ryan Vint said. “The support that the community showed for us was just awesome. I wish we could have given them a better show with the result. I hope that they don’t jump ship on us. They gave us energy especially in the last 20 minutes there and that’s what kept us going and I can’t thank them enough.”
While the Badgers weren’t quite as dominating Friday night, they still killed most of the Aztecs offensive attacks. But in the 36th minute, SDSU defender Daniel Steres buried a rebound off of Vint, scoring the lone goal of the game.
Vint isn’t making any excuses for the goal.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” Vint said. “I should have had it. 99 out of 100 times I’ll make that save and hold onto it. I thought too far ahead instead of watching the ball into my hands. I was thinking the next play in my mind. I should have just concentrated on catching the ball. But I’m going to learn from it and never make that mistake again, that’s for sure.”
Although SDSU only made one goal, UW defenders had a busy night keeping SDSU from crashing the box and creating more scoring chances.
For freshman defender Paul Yonga, a loss at home in his first game wasn’t ideal by any means. Yonga feels the goal was disappointing, and could have been avoidable.
“I think we need to concentrate – we need to concentrate for the whole 90 minutes,” Yonga said. “Those times when we get tired and our mind drifts off and we’re not all on the same page, we need to stay on the same page and not give up some weak goals like that and we’ll be alright.”
Despite not getting a win at home yet, Trask still feels confident his team is building a strong home-field advantage.
“I’d say it was a pretty good fortress,” Trask said of the game against SDSU. “I didn’t see them get that many chances on our goal. That’s what building that fortress is. We’re building it. I thought we were pretty good defensively against a pretty good attacking team. They had a few shots from a distance, but they didn’t have much penetration through our box. In that respect I thought we really stepped up in that part of the game.
“It’s something we can build off of.”