The Badgers found success against their former coach earlier this season, but now it’s their current coach’s turn to face his former team.
The Wisconsin men’s soccer team (2-12-2, 0-4-1 Big Ten) hasn’t had the most successful season thus far, but tonight, UW will look for its third win as it hosts head coach John Trask’s former team Illinois-Chicago (7-9-0, 3-4-0 Horizon League).
The last time the Badgers played at home, they finally won their second game of the season, 2-0, over in-state rival Milwaukee. The squad is looking to keep improving each game, but hopes that some magic is left over from its last win.
“I think if we approach it just like we did Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week that we’re a Big Ten team, and we’ve got some good resources available to us,” Trask said. “If the guys show up with the right mentality, I feel like they’ve tried to put their best foot forward. Now, it’s whether we can score a goal or two and nullify the other team’s opportunities.”
Earlier in the season, Wisconsin traveled to Indiana and walked away with a notable tie against former coach Todd Yeagley. The emotions were running high that game, and now facing Trask’s former team, the squad feels like the games are no different.
Senior captain Aaron Nichols expects the Flames to be a tough, disciplined team.
“Knowing the kind of coach that Coach Trask is, I know a lot of those guys are going to be his recruits, so you know they’re going to be a very disciplined team,” Nichols said. “They’re going to play good soccer, definitely, and they’re going to be organized defensively. They’re going to be tough to break down. It will be a good challenge.”
UIC wasn’t scheduled just because Trask got the job in Madison. UW and UIC have met six times previously, with UW leading the series 4-2-0. The last time they met was just last season, when the Flames won 3-0.
Illinois-Chicago has a strong offense with junior midfielder Derek Huffman leading the team with eight goals and junior Eric Frazier scoring six goals. The two have a total of five game-winning goals between them this season.
Wisconsin knows it has to keep an eye on those two, but it isn’t taking the rest of the team for granted.
“You know they’re going to come out hard,” freshman midfielder Nick Janus said. “That’s kind of how we felt against Indiana. You want to go make an impression. I know some of the guys on the team; I played with them in club. They’re a good team. They’re going to come out hard, they’re skilled, so it’s going to be a good game. I’m excited for it.”
After dropping its last game to Ohio State on the road, Wisconsin feels it’s still improving every game, but just needs to fine tune things at this point in the season.
“It’s little decisions in and around the box that we just have to improve on,” Trask said. “Whether it’s the final pass or the final touch on goal, we just need to be at a little bit higher level.
“We’re just working on little pieces. We’re not trying to redevelop the wheel at this point. It’s pretty late in the season; we need to keep these guys fresh and keep them playing as well as they are.”
While emotions may be running high Wednesday, Trask is going to be focused on his current team and working to keep building on their improvements and success.
“This is my team now,” Trask said. “It will be nice to see some familiar faces, but when the game starts it’s all business, 100 percent UW. Hopefully we’ll go out there and kick their ass.”