Coming off an impressive, hard-fought draw against the reigning national champions, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2-8-1, 0-2-1 Big Ten) had to have seen momentum finally swing to their side as they prepared to face their I-94 rival UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Panthers (5-5-1, 1-2-1 Horizon) had not beaten the Badgers in their last five matchups.
Unfortunately for UW-Madison, the combination of a rainy Engelmann Stadium and injuries to senior starters Elan Koenig and Duncan Storey meant the Badgers were at a disadvantage much of the night.
Milwaukee dominated possession and harried senior goalie Dean Cowdroy, breaking through in the 75th minute to win by a score of 1–0.
As the Badgers struggle through their schedule, a blueprint to beat them has been developed and followed time and again. Opponents continue to apply consistent pressure on a solid defensive unit and eventually wear UW-Madison’s backline into conceding, enabled by the lack of a counter-attacking threat.
Yet again the Badgers were outshot, this time by a margin of 16–8. They were also out-possessed and failed to score for the seventh time in 11 games this season.
The silver lining for the Badgers was Cowdroy, who managed to keep the Badgers within striking distance the entire way, conceding only one goal and recording five saves in another admirable performance. The excellence of the senior has helped to disguise matches which may have been lopsided on the scoreboard.
Back in the losing column and with multiple players under 100%, UW-Madison returned home to face conference opponent Michigan State (2-6-2, 2-1-0).
Sunday’s game was nationally televised, and the Spartans capitalized on early possession dominance to jump ahead in the 20th minute. As halftime arrived at McClimon Soccer Field, it appeared to be all Michigan State, though the Badgers had finally accumulated a fair amount of shots and set pieces.
The second half saw UW-Madison generate an offensive presence quickly, forcing the Spartans to defend for a majority of the frame’s first minutes. After a yellow card for Michigan State, the Badgers finally capitalized and set the score equal at 1–1, with Storey finding the back of the net courtesy of an assist from junior Ben Leas.
The Badgers appeared to be on for another strike, but the Spartans maintained the level scoreline and the contest would go to overtime.
Wisconsin played a much better game Sunday, albeit against a conference opponent with a record beneath .500. The Badgers looked as if they could break through in the OT period, but were caught pressing in the 94th minute, conceding their second goal of the match in a game they would go on to lose 2–1.
The Badgers have lost only twice after posting a goal, compared to their six shutout losses on the year. Offensive production has proven to keep them in games, but a loss Sunday has UW-Madison sitting at 2-8-1 with only six games left in the season. Any hope of postseason success runs through the Big Ten tournament for the struggling Badgers.
Wisconsin faces Rutgers (6-3-2, 0-3-1) Friday, Oct. 11 in Piscataway, New Jersey.