April 29, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- Following the 2013 regular season, University of Wisconsin men’s soccer head coach John Trask took the onus upon himself and his coaching staff in preparing his team for a spring season that would include the loss of 14 players from a squad that earned the school its’ first appearance in the NCAA tournament in nearly two decades.
On the heels of the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team’s 1-0 shutout of I-94 rival Marquette at the Wisconsin DI Spring Challenge on Saturday at Valley Fields in Milwaukee, Trask took a moment to reflect and praise his guys’ effort in taking the advice and guidance his staff gave and applying it to training during the spring season.
“Resetting the culture and doing all the little things right on a consistent basis has been the focus of the team and coaching staff these last couple of months,” Trask said. “To close out the spring with that type of performance against a team like Marquette shows that the hard work the team put in is paying dividends.”
Wisconsin concluded the spring with wins over previously mentioned Marquette, Northern Illinois and Green Bay, while dropping close decisions to Western Illinois and Illinois-Chicago.
While focusing on development and attempting to put the pieces in place for 2014, Trask continued to emphasize the goal of UW remaining the state’s modern soccer power. A win over Marquette on Saturday goes a long way in solidifying that claim.
“One of the goals of the program when I arrived was to make sure we became the preeminent program in the state of Wisconsin and to move up the ladder in the Big Ten hierarchy,” Trask said. “To know that our last loss to a Wisconsin program dates back to October of 2012 and that we have beaten Marquette in each of our last three contests makes a strong case that we are the lead program here in the state.”
"To close out the spring with that type of performance against a team like Marquette shows that the hard work the team put in is paying dividends."
- John Trask
Now the team will shift its focus to closing out the semester strong off of the pitch as the team prepares for final exams, summer training and all of the miscellaneous commitments that will precede the 2014 season this fall.
In 2013, Wisconsin established itself as one of the country’s premiere collegiate soccer programs. After three seasons of working toward building a program that mirrored the success of UW’s teams of the 90’s, Trask and his staff saw their work come to fruition this past fall as UW earned its first postseason berth since 1995 while owning the country’s longest current home unbeaten streak (14).
Six Badgers were also honored as All-Big Ten performers, with AJ Cochran and Tomislav Zadro earning Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year honors, just the second tandem ever in Big Ten history from the same team to earn the honor in the same season.
After establishing that standard of excellence last season, Trask will look to newly-appointed team captains Jacob Brindle, Drew Conner and Adam Lauko, to carry the torch and continue the line of success into the fall.
“The three of them are learning the ropes concerning what it takes to be a captain here at Wisconsin,” Trask explained. “All three have tremendous leadership qualities and to see them mature and accept the responsibility has been exciting for the coaching staff.”
With the loss of 13 seniors plus Cochran, who opted to leave school early to join the MLS, the dynamic of the team and its personnel will change dramatically in the fall with the addition of a large recruiting class. With that in mind, Trask will rely heavily on his upperclassmen to set the tone this offseason and in training to help acclimate many of the newcomers.
Away from the pitch, this group has also made some noise in the classroom. At the annual Buckingham’s, a program which honors outstanding performance by University of Wisconsin student-athletes outside the playing field, 11 members of the men’s soccer team were recognized for earning above a 3.5 grade point average.
Following a solid spring, the Badgers will look to build off of that momentum heading into the offseason -- a period in which many of the players will have the opportunity to elevate their status on the team through individual work and high-level training.
“The bar has been raised and these guys know what is expected of them,” Trask said. “All that’s left for us to do now is hope they can take the lessons learned last season and in the spring and evaluate where they want to be before training begins in the fall."