Coming into the season, the Wisconsin men’s soccer team surely predicted that Indiana would test their defensive endurance and force them to respond on the attack.
If so, they were right.
Ranked No. 4 in the nation, the Indiana Hoosiers welcomed the Badgers to Bloomington on Friday, promptly defeating them 3–1 in a game underscored by a stark shot differential and Wisconsin’s offensive inconsistency.
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Following a blistering pace set by the home side to start the match, the Badgers conceded a penalty in just the ninth minute, converted by Hoosier Captain Victor Bezerra.
Wisconsin managed to settle into the contest shortly thereafter, but no further scoring came in the first half of the match. Goalie Dean Cowdroy recorded three early saves to keep the Hoosiers in check, providing the Badgers momentum throughout the closing stages of the half.
Already down 8-1 in total shot count at the half, Wisconsin came out of the locker room and quickly established their preferred tempo — measuring possession and attacking when possible. This formula proved to be successful as the Badgers lulled the Hoosiers to sleep, finally pouncing on an opportunity in the 76th minute and equalizing.
The Badgers’ only goal came from sophomore Matthew Comiskey, the first of his career. Comiskey’s header came with an assist by Michael Russell and ended a 286 game-minutes scoring drought for the team that spanned nearly three full games.
Unfortunately, the positives ended there for Wisconsin. Indiana capitalized on an uncharacteristically forward back line, scoring a second goal in the 79th minute as well as a decisive third in the 90th.
In the end, Wisconsin tallied three shots to Indiana’s fifteen, committed six more fouls and obtained only one corner to the Hoosiers’ eight. The difference in attacking opportunities made all the difference, as Indiana made every minute of possession count.
While the Badgers were eventually overwhelmed by the strengths of the Hoosier squad, there certainly were positives to take out of their conference opener. Per UW Athletics, Head Coach John Trask praised Indiana for game management, but credited his team for the late equalizer.
“It was a good Big Ten match. I was very pleased with many moments of the game but credit Indiana, once we tied it they found a set piece goal and effectively killed off the game. We’ll learn from this and obviously Jerry Yeagley Field is a tough place to play,” Trask said.
Wisconsin then returned home to face I-94 rival Marquette Tuesday, but failed to translate the offensive momentum seen at Indiana into a goal. The Badgers fell 2—0 despite yet another impressive outing from Cowdroy, who managed to record five saves on the night.
Once again, Wisconsin fell behind in total shots (13-3), but had more set piece chances than the Golden Eagles with eight corners and numerous free kicks from the attacking third.
Ultimately, the Badgers had more room to generate attacking opportunities but failed to convert, leading to their fifth shutout loss of the season.
Sitting at only 2-6, Wisconsin has plenty of work to do in Big Ten play to retain any hope of salvaging what looked to be a promising campaign. The schedule gets no easier for them though, as they take on the reigning Big Ten champions Maryland Friday at McClimon.