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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Men’s soccer looking towards better results in 2011

After upsetting No. 2 seeded Ohio State, eventual champion Michigan eliminated the Wisconsin men’s soccer team from the Big Ten Tournament in a 1-0 decision in University Park, PA. Friday to end the Badgers’ season.

Head coach John Trask saw a lot of progress in his first season at the helm of the team, but feels there is still room for a great deal of improvement for the 4-13-3 Badgers, as the team is currently not even close to what Trask expects of them.

“Satisfying, but not good enough,” Trask said. “I thought we made some good improvements. It’s not where we want to be obviously, but I think the last third of the season, as the guys continued to gain confidence and became better as a unit, we became what we had talked about – becoming a pretty good team.”

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Becoming a principled team both offensively and defensively was key to UW’s development throughout the season. Trask felt his young squad became a smarter soccer team that demonstrated growth in its ability to dictate the game by playing to its strengths while avoiding its weaknesses.

Trask came to Wisconsin as the team’s third coach in three years and acknowledged there was an uncertain adjustment period where he had to feel out his new team, especially when an astounding 15 new players joined the Badgers this past August.

While the team will not have to adjust to the same drastic changes in personnel this offseason, Trask emphasized that team training this spring and summer will still be crucial if Wisconsin wants to be in any condition to compete come August 15 when formal practice restarts.

“Every training session this spring, every spring game [and] everybody’s summer plans affect what’s going to happen to this group of players,” Trask said. “The level of commitment from now until August 15th needs to be much greater than it was even this year, or we’re going to find ourselves in the same situation.”

Next season’s outlook looks promising for Wisconsin, as the Badgers return starting goalkeeper freshman Max Jentsch, who closed out the season with a 435:34 minute shutout streak before finally letting up a goal in the 78th minute to Michigan on Nov. 12.

The team will also return All-Big Ten Second Team award winner freshman forward Chris Prince, who led the team in scoring with 14 points off seven goals.

“I think we’re all pretty excited. We’re feeling pretty confident too, especially having won three out of the [last] four games (of the regular season) and being on a two-game winning streak,” Prince said. “I know we’re all confident and we know what [we] have to offer, so we’re feeling good. We think we can do good things.”

Wisconsin’s Nov. 11 penalty shootout win against Ohio State marked the first time the team has made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament since 2003.

Despite returning eight starters, maturity and leadership will remain key unanswered questions for the Badgers to address.

“Maturity will be an issue again next year due to the [way the roster] is set up,” Trask said. “We lost a couple of very good seniors in terms of leadership. We’re going to need guys to step up into the leadership void. Whatever momentum we gained at the end of the season, the harsh reality is four wins [and] 13 losses is not even close to where we expect to be.”

The Badgers also lose senior captain right back Aaron Nichols, whose athleticism, versatility and leadership from the back played an essential role in supporting UW’s inexperienced lineup.

“As far as us, coach is just expecting to keep doing what we’ve been doing – just improving,” Nichols said. “It seems to me that every game we’re getting a little bit closer to where we want to be. The team mindset is that we’re starting to get a little confidence and maturity. A lot of the guys are really starting to step up and be confident. Everyone is great players. You see the guys are starting to believe in each other. It’s looking good.”

The season never ends for the Badgers, according to Trask, as his players received just a three-day break after tournament play before returning to training. Wisconsin will immediately begin weight training, conditioning tests and other measures to help become the bigger, stronger, tougher and overall better team Trask is looking for.

“It was a theme I told our guys every day after every game when the performance wasn’t where it needed to be,” Trask said. “You can’t look back and say what could have been, what should have been; all you can do is affect the future, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to do.”

“If we’re national champions [or Big Ten champions], then I guess we can rest on our morals,” Trask continued. “Up until then, we have to out work Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State [and] Penn State. If we don’t, we’re going to fail again next year.”

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