Men’s soccer gets ready for Big Ten Tournament

first_imgIn their last chance to prepare for the Big Ten Tournament next week, the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team will battle the Drake Bulldogs in the final game of the regular season. Although the Badgers have dominated non-conference play thus far, Wednesday’s match will be anything but easy.The Bulldogs, unlike Wisconsin’s other non-conference foes, have received national attention this year. Until their last match, which ended in a 2-0 loss to second ranked Creighton, Drake was ranked 24th in the NSCAA. Although the Badgers have breezed through the out of conference schedule, they know the Bulldogs present a unique challenge.“They are ranked very highly,” Wisconsin assistant coach Nick Pasquarello said. “I don’t like to get caught up in polls, but when you’re playing an opponent that is ranked higher than you, I think that it’s a little bit easier to use that as motivation.”Although Drake is coming off a loss to Creighton, they have still been successful in recent weeks. Before the match against the Blue Jays, the Bulldogs had been undefeated since Oct. 14. Their last loss came in a double overtime loss to Western Illinois, a team that beat Wisconsin 1-0 on Oct. 1. In addition to facing the Leathernecks, Drake has seen two of Wisconsin’s other opponents, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay. Similar to the Badgers, the Bulldogs recorded victories against both opponents. Their success this season has been noticed by the Badgers.“They can put the ball behind the net, they know how to win,” junior Scott Lorenz said. “We have got to find a way to beat them.”In addition to the success Drake has had against Wisconsin’s opponents, they have also recorded wins against the Badgers. At the UW-Milwaukee Panther Classic last year, the Bulldogs defeated Wisconsin 3-1. The Badgers are not only motivated to beat Drake, but a win over the Bulldogs would build the team’s confidence heading into the Big Ten Tournament.“I think they’re a pretty good team; they’re very competitive,” senior forward Victor Diaz said. “To get a win … will give us enough confidence to keep going and do something great this year.”Evening the score against the Bulldogs will be a challenge, especially because they are going against two very successful goaltenders. Starter Michael Drozd had only given up 1.05 goals per game, and backup Jordan Kadlec has allowed a respectable 1.11 goals a game.“I think we’re not going to do anything differently than what we’ve been doing over the past couple weeks, and it’s really helped us,” Pasquarello said. “We’ve had some success over teams that haven’t given up a lot of goals.”The timing of the game will also provide a different matchup for the Badgers. While most of Wisconsin’s games came every three days, the Badgers haven’t played in a week. They will wait another eight days for the Big Ten Tournament to start, but the extra time off will be beneficial to the team in terms of rest.“I think the layoff is ultimately good for us,” Lorenz said. “It gives us a chance to heal some bodies up and really come full strength at Drake tomorrow.”Although a concern may be that the team is looking forward to the Big Ten Tournament, the Badgers know the importance of defeating the Bulldogs.“I think where we are in the season, it’s turned out to be a very important game,” Pasquarello said. “I think all our focus has been on Drake, and there hasn’t been much talk about the Big Ten Tournament, which is good.”last_img read more