With only two wins to their credit in the 2019 campaign, the University of Wisconsin’s men’s soccer team finally managed to put together a sequence of matches that resembled the success of last season and showcased what could have been for the Badgers this year. Finally able to find the win column, the Badgers defeated The Ohio State University on the road after a home draw with Northwestern to wrap up the regular season.
Wisconsin (3-10-4, 1-4-3 Big Ten) celebrated their seniors last Wednesday, and the Badgers rewarded their fans with a draw against the Northwestern Wildcats (7-7-2, 3-3-2) — a goalless tie marked with stellar defensive play and game-ending snowfall.
Both teams fought for an early game lead, pressing hard and playing physical. Wisconsin tallied five fouls in the first period, and were harried by Wildcat defenders frequently. Despite the Wildcats having an edge in possession throughout the early phases, the Badgers’ aggression was rewarded throughout the match.
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For the first time this season, the Badgers won the shot count in the opening half and for the game. Wisconsin looked close to scoring as the second half kicked off, but were unable to capitalize on a shaky stint of play from the Wildcats.
As the snowfall really began to mount, officials decided conditions were no longer sufficient to continue play — and after 74 minutes, the final home game of the year for the Badgers was over. There were plenty of positive takeaways from the final contest at McClimon, and Wisconsin was eager to ride two draws into the final match of the year against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
Ohio State men’s soccer team (6-10-1, 1-6-1) came into the final regular-season game with six wins on the year, four more than Wisconsin, only one of which came in Big Ten play. The match, therefore, would determine the seventh and eighth seed for the conference tournament, significant as an opening-round bye awaited the winning side.
More importantly, momentum was at stake as the regular season drew to a close. Wisconsin was efficient in its attacking early on, but was outshot 4–1 in the opening period. The Badgers also failed to tally a corner throughout the game, but their pressure forced a turbulent half riddled with a multitude of fouls, including six yellow cards.
Tied at zero through 45 minutes, the game momentum was with the Buckeyes. Despite the score, the flow of play suggested it was only a matter of time before Ohio State got the best of senior goalie Dean Cowdroy. The Badgers would push on to start the second period though, and a deflected shot attempt from senior Duncan Storey set up sophomore Zach Klancnik for a shot on goal that put Wisconsin up 1-0 early in the half.
The Badgers would not look back.
Wisconsin celebrated at the final whistle Sunday, and they head into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 7 team in the Big Ten. The Badgers will face Penn State, who they recently fell to in mid-October. If they are to have any chance of a miracle run through to the NCAA Tournament, capitalizing on mistakes such as the one in Columbus will be of paramount importance.
Wisconsin will travel to face Penn State in the single-elimination tournament Sunday, Nov. 10 in University Park, Pennsylvania.