The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team (7-5-2, 4-2 Big Ten) will look to continue their dramatic rise as they travel to Illinois Wednesday to face Northwestern (4-7-5, 0-4-3 Big Ten).
Previously, the Badgers faced some early season struggles, only managing two wins out of their first seven games this season. Since then, however, they have won five games out of seven and their four Big Ten wins leave them perched third on the Big Ten ladder.
Though No. 4 Indiana all but has the Big Ten regular season title wrapped up, the final two regular season games remain important for Wisconsin as they attempt to secure a home Big Ten quarterfinal. There are realistically five teams vying for the top four spots, which of course come with a home quarterfinal berth.
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The Badgers won’t be getting too far ahead of themselves, however, with Wednesday’s encounter against Northwestern requiring all their attention. Wisconsin has a knack for winning games which many expect them not to thus far this season — their most recent upset victory over Michigan serves as a prime example.
Conversely, they have also dropped games in which they were expected to win, so despite the Wildcats’ recent struggles — they are winless in their last 10 matches — the Badgers will have to be wary.
When it comes to players to watch on the pitch, don’t overlook Wisconsin’s two talented freshmen Noah Melick and Andrew Akindele who share the team lead in goals with three each.
While that tandem will provide the emphasis on the attacking end, Wisconsin’s defense will be looking to extend Northwestern’s scoring misery, as the Wildcats have only managed four goals in their past nine games.
Wisconsin’s impressive defensive efforts of late were acknowledged this week as goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy received his second Big Ten defensive player of the week award this season.
In response to his award, the Australian native tweeted “All down to the boys in front of me,” an ode to the Badgers increasingly imposing back line.
The Badgers will carry an aura of confidence with them as they travel down the I-90 to Evanston, having won 14 of 19 games all time played in Wildcat country.