When the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team faced a setback this weekend in a loss to Michigan that effectively eliminated the Badgers from the Big Ten regular season title contention, senior forward Nick Janus wasn’t the problem.
Janus tallied yet another goal this weekend against Michigan, providing a spark for the Badger team before they finally fell to the Wolverines. The goal was Janus’ seventh of the year, making him the leading goal scorer for Wisconsin.
Janus, a senior from Deer Park, Ill., has not been anything short of astounding this year for the Badgers despite a slow start. Janus didn’t make a mark on the score sheet until four games in when he scored his first goal of the year against South Florida on Sept. 12. Since that game, Janus has scored seven goals in 10 games. Along with two assists, Janus leads the team with 16 overall points.
Janus has exceeded even the high expectation set for him when head coach John Trask brought him into the program at Wisconsin.
“[Nick] adds elements that any good soccer team needs,” Trask said. “With outstanding physical tools and good ideas, he should complement the other attacking players we have well.”
His seven goals this season make up just more than a quarter of the Badgers’ 27 goals of the season, making Janus one of the most pivotal members of the Wisconsin offense.
Janus’ impressive goal-scoring ability has landed him on the top of the charts in the Big Ten. Janus is currently third in both goals scored and points per game in the conference behind only Northwestern’s Joey Calistri and Michigan State’s Tim Kreutz.
Janus is also not only an effective striker but an efficient one. Despite being one of the conference’s top scorers, he has only taken the eighth most shots in the conference. Seven other players have more shots than Janus while he has been able to outscore all of them except Calistri and Kreutz.
“The coaches have been talking about not squandering goal-scoring opportunities this year,” Janus said. “I think we have been doing a really good job of being efficient offensively this year.”
Janus has chosen the right moments to score this year too — something Wisconsin has grown accustomed to especially at home. His ability to step up for the Badgers in close situations, and score three game winners, has landed him on the list, tied with five other Big Ten players, for most game-winning goals.
Janus not only is scoring goals, but is leading the team by scoring goals. One of John Trask’s four captains for the season, he leads by example when the Badgers are in a bind.
“Janus is a great leader out there,” Trask said. “His control of the field and understanding of the game make him a powerful weapon on the field.”
Out of his seven goals this season, five of them have been the Badgers’ first goal of the game, while three of them ended up being the Badgers’ only goal in the game. When Wisconsin fell behind Penn State 1-0 early in their matchup earlier this month, Janus was able to put away the equalizer and give life to the restless Badgers.
A similar situation occurred just this weekend against Michigan. After going down 1-0 to the Wolverines, Janus helped Wisconsin fight back and tallied a quick goal just 11 minutes after Michigan’s first blow.
Against Marquette, Janus was able to redirect a cross from last year’s leading goal scorer Chris Prince into the net for the one and only goal of the game as Wisconsin defeated their in-state rivals for the first time in five years.
Trask clearly understood he could trust Janus with the game on the line as he sent Janus to the dot to take a penalty kick that would end up sealing Wisconsin’s victory against Drake the next week.
With five games remaining, it’s evident that all of Wisconsin scoring records of the early 1980s remain safe, but that doesn’t detract from what Janus has been able to accomplish this year. If he is able to reach 10 goals, he will tie the record for the Badgers in the last 10 years and, even more importantly, he will be part of an effort by Wisconsin to make a late season push to the NCAA tournament.
The prospects are looking a bit more likely as Wisconsin continues to climb in the RPI and polls, but the future is still uncertain.
If the Badgers do make the tournament, their goal from the onset of the year, it will be their first NCAA tournament appearance since they won the championship in 1995. And leading Wisconsin’s offensive charge will be their top goal scorer, Nick Janus.