Unsung heroes. Every sport has them. In the sport of soccer, it is typically the defenders that fall into that category. They play day in and day out, without the glory of the offensive positions. Rarely do they score a point, maybe an assist here and there. And when the team records a shutout, it usually isn't defenders getting the credit. Yet without them, the game wouldn't be the same.
UW defenders Blake Succa and David Caban are two players that exemplify the role of the defender. Both have seen action in all 12 of Wisconsin's games this season, with Succa starting every contest. Both play hard every minute they are on the field and play even harder in the final minutes of the game, yet neither has been the subject of a postgame interview or earned a weekly honor.
"Defending starts the attack," Caban stated. "It is always nice when you get to blow up a challenge with an opposing midfielder as he is coming down at you, and then you win the tackle and start the attack to the next play."
"Our main job is to slow down the other team's attack so that our attackers can get back and get behind the ball," said Succa.
"If someone is under pressure I can be an outlet for them," added Caban. "If the attack can't break through, they always have options back to relieve the pressure."
The strength of UW's defense was put the to the test in Sunday's 2-1 win over Michigan. The Wolverines came out of halftime with a two-goal deficit and tested the Badgers' defense with 16 shots in the second half, including six on net.
"We had the lead and we stayed calm," Caban said. "We knew that once they came at us we had to hold solid and make sure we preserved the lead and try to get the win. We used the motivation to stay undefeated in the Big Ten as a little extra push."
UW's defense held and the Badgers earned their first-ever win over Michigan in Ann Arbor; a fact that shouldn't go unnoted as the team travels to Ann Arbor in November for the Big Ten Tournament.