Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s Soccer: Scoring troubles ahead of Friday clash against Michigan

Badgers hope to turn around season after road loss to Michigan State
Abby Cima
Men’s Soccer vs. St. Thomas

The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team (3-5-1, 0-3 Big Ten) heads into a Friday night game against Michigan having not scored a goal in its past four matches. 

Wisconsin most recently lost to Michigan State on the road Sunday, when a 44th-minute goal from Spartans midfielder Louis Sala kept the Badgers – who had four more shots and three more shots on goal than the Spartans – to a 0-1 deficit for 90 minutes. 

The Badgers held possession throughout the match and were able to access Michigan State’s final third. But the team struggled to finish its chances, a theme that has emerged in its past four games. It drew 0-0 with Northern Illinois last week after putting up nine more shots than the Huskies. Only two of those shots were on goal. 


Senior Badgers midfielder Iñaki Iribarren bounced back from his red card against Rutgers on Sept. 23 with a strong performance against the Spartans, where he recorded a season-high four shots, three of which were on goal. 

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But the team’s scoring woes do not reflect its overall performance this season. Its back line – led by towering defenders 6-foot-6 Matt Chandler and 6-foot-5 Aron Eli Saevarsson – and goalkeeper Carter Abbott have conceded just four goals in the past four games. 

For head coach Neil Jones, positive results are waiting around the corner. 

“While we’re disappointed that we didn’t come away with at least a point, our staff is absolutely loving coaching this group of young men,” Jones said in a Sunday game recap. “We’re close to earning better results, we just have to keep pushing.” 

Jones is new to the Badgers team this season after spending eight years as head coach of the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer team. The New Zealand native has made eight NCAA tournament appearances as a head and assistant coach, including two with Loyola and a championship win as assistant men’s soccer coach at University of California Santa Barbara. 

Wisconsin finds itself in the middle of a season that still has potential for tournament success if it resolves its scoring problems before a series of upcoming Big Ten matches, which include Maryland, Indiana, Northwestern and Ohio State.

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In an interview with The Badger Herald, Badgers midfielder Tim Bielic said team morale is still very high.

“We’ve kind of been on a scoring drought, so that is something we’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks now,” Bielic said. “It’s kind of hard for a team to go four games in a row without scoring a goal and to try to overcome that adversity.” 

Wisconsin beat Maryland and Ohio State during a similar part of its 2021 season. Former Badgers forward Andrew Akindele – who now plays in Major League Soccer’s lower division MLS Next Pro for FC Cincinnati 2 – scored in both of those matches. 

Akindele’s absence on the team this season is notable after he was the second highest goal scorer behind Iribarren last year and recorded the most shots on goal. 

But Bielic added that the team is still optimistic about its chances of making the Big Ten tournament in early November. The top eight teams in the Big Ten qualify for the tournament, and the Badgers are currently in last place at No. 9 with a 0-3 conference record. 

“We’re in good spirits only because we’re defending really well – playing very well – and creating a lot of chances up in front of goal,” Bielic said. “It’s coming down to the end of the season and we’ve got to get points on the table and hopefully make the Big Ten tournament so we can have a run in that.” 

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Bielic said he has been confident working in the team’s midfield this year, primarily by holding together the team’s possession and driving the ball into the final third. The junior from Arlington Heights, Illinois spent most of his freshman and sophomore years off of the pitch with a series of injuries before returning in 2021, according to the Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin is planning to head into its Friday game against Michigan with its same playing style, Bielic added. The team has appeared this season to put an emphasis on a combination of consistent defending, possession and counterattacks. He said the players are also keen on turning around their scoring record. 

“Going into the Michigan game tomorrow we are going to continue to do our thing [and] play our own game,” Bielic said. “We’re not going to try to change the way we defend and attack. We’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing but with a little more focus on making sure that the ball goes in the back of the net and securing that win.” 

The Badgers will face the Michigan Wolverines (3-5-3, 1-2-1 Big Ten) in Madison at the McClimon Soccer Complex tonight. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game includes a “Pac the Mac” promotion where the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Wisconsin scarf.

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