It was windy. It was cold. It was their first win in almost two months.
Finally getting their second win of the season the Wisconsin men’s soccer team shutout the Milwaukee Panthers 2-0.
The last time Wisconsin got a win was Sept. 4 against Santa Clara at the UC Irvine College classic. The Badgers have seen their fair share of struggles this season, but they earned a win against the Panthers with the decisive goal from freshman Nick Janus just nine minutes into the game.
Off a beautiful assist from senior forward Bryan Gerster, Janus notched his first collegiate goal and the game-winning goal.
“It feels good just to get over the hump,” Janus said of the goal. “I played forward in high school and club and I used to score goals and when I got here it was just kind of different. Getting used to the college game, it’s nice to finally get it.”
Head coach John Trask just seemed elated to finally get another win and although he would have liked to get at least one more goal on the night he was proud to see Janus get his first goal.
“It’s huge,” Trask said. “He’s been chomping at the bit. He feels like he hasn’t put away some chances that he’s had to get on the scoreboard. I would have loved to see Chris Prince get three goals tonight, but I think it’s more important for our team dynamic getting Janus a goal like that. It was a great play leading up to it.”
The Badgers took an early lead with Janus’ goal, but Gerster wanted to give the squad a little more breathing room.
Only thirty seconds after the first goal Gerster brought the ball down the field and set up freshman Joey Tennyson for a header into the net. With the goals only thirty seconds apart it was the shortest amount of time between goals Wisconsin has had all season.
Gerster certainly had a big impact on the game with assists on both goals, but the win is what’s really important for him.
“It finally felt good to win,” Gerster said. “After all those games we lost on the road and in overtime losses. I don’t really care if I get the assists as long as we win which we did so I feel good about it.”
Along with all the struggles the Badgers have had this season the story of their youth goes right along side it. The freshmen on the team have consistently been a factor in all of the games this season. Finally they’re rewarded for all of their hard work.
Both goals came from freshmen, showing they’re more confident and experienced than their record probably gives them credit for.
“The freshmen have been good,” Gerster said. “We thought we came in prepared. They came in the right spots tonight. Janus had a great goal. Same with Tennyson. I saw him cutting into the near post and I just put it right on his head and he put it in. They’ve all done a really good job. Especially Trevor Wheeler too and Chris Prince who has gotten in the last three games five goals, I think, so he’s pretty hot right now.”
Ever since switching from a 4-5-1 formation to a 4-4-2 the Badgers have been producing more offense, but this was the first game where it really paid off for them. Since making the switch Wisconsin has scored eight goals in three games compared to the eight goals they scored in the twelve games before that.
The change in formation certainly seems to have had a positive effect on the squad, but Janus thinks the new formation doesn’t deserve all the credit.
“Coach always says you can talk about formations, but we could play any formation, it doesn’t really matter,” Janus said. “I think it’s just working together. We’ve been getting used to each other. We’ve got four different classes playing together. It was fun tonight. We had fun I think tonight so I think it was just the attitude change.”
Wisconsin has certainly had a rough season and while its 2-11-1, 0-3-1 Big Ten record doesn’t represent how tough of a team it has been all season, getting another win just gives a sense of relief.
“The team’s been kind of down and we’ve been having heartbreakers like Green Bay and overtime – it’s just been rough,” Janus said. “It’s good to get the win.”
So finally in their second win of the season with only three regular season games left, the Badger bench was a happy place when the clock ticked down to zero.
Trask has been working hard with this team all season and while the win certainly could have come a lot sooner he was proud of the way the guys played.
“I’m not big into four goal games,” Trask said. “This was my type of soccer. Take them on, make sure you’ve got numbers behind the ball, and be tough defensively. It was a good night for the guys and I’m so happy for them. They needed it, to be honest.”