The release of the 2008 mens soccer schedule proves the Badgers will be a team to watch this fall. The Badgers will again host the annual Middleton Sports and Fitness Invitational early in the year, but the McClimon Soccer Complex will be the place to be at the end of the regular season as well, when the Badgers host the Big Ten Tourney in November. Furthermore, UW will face four of last years top 25 teams throughout the course of the season.
The schedule is a very competitive one again with some very good match-ups with teams from outside our region, Rohrman adds. It will test us as we cant take anyone lightly.
The Badgers will face conference rivals Ohio State, Indiana and Northwestern, along with non-conference contender Santa Clara, all teams that finished in the top 25 in 2007. Ohio State finished second in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, finishing with an overall record of 17-4-5. The Buckeyes also won the Big Ten Tournament, and placed second overall in the Big Ten Conference with a conference record of 4-1-1.
Indiana placed 14th in the final rankings, with an overall record of 13-4-5, won the Big Ten Conference season title with four wins, no losses, and two ties, and finished second in the Big Ten Tournament to OSU. Northwestern ranked 21st in the polls (12-5-3 overall) and finished third in the Big Ten Conference overall with a 3-2-1 record. Santa Clara, which ranked seventh in the national polls, finished 16-2-4 overall.
With three of UWs four toughest opponents being Big Ten competitors, it is evident that this seasons conference play will be challenging.
Once again the Big Ten will be one of the best conferences in the country. I feel that the conference is the best conference for mens soccer from top to bottom, as there is a great deal of parity among the teams, Rohrman asserts. Clearly the Big Ten will be right there at the end of the year as one of the toughest, most competitive conferences in the country.
The Badgers open their pre-season in mid-August with two exhibition games in Madison. On August 17th, Wisconsin faces UW-Parkside, followed by a match against Edgewood on Aug. 22.
Shortly after, UW opens its non-conference season with three consecutive tournaments. On Aug. 29-31, the Badgers travel to Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Flyer Classic where they will face Wright State and Denver.
The following weekend, UW hosts the 20th annual Middleton Sports and Fitness Invitational at the McClimon Soccer Complex on Sept. 5-7. The Badgers will compete against Santa Clara, which placed seventh in last seasons national polls, and Dayton in their home-opening season.
UW wraps up their pre-conference season at long-time rival UW-Milwaukees Panther Classic on Sept. 12-14, where they are scheduled to play CS-Northridge and Binghamton.
Rohrman sees these early tournaments as an excellent warm-up for the conference season.
Our non-conference schedule early in the year will give us a number of opportunities to challenge us in much the same way that the conference teams will, he explains. We have some very good, high quality opponents who will challenge us to compete for 90 minutes.
The Badgers open their conference season at Indiana the following weekend.
Certainly playing at Indiana is a tough test for any team, Rohrman says about UWs first Big Ten match. Reflecting on last seasons scoreless draw against the Hoosiers at home, he adds, I certainly like how we competed against them last fall here in Madison. I thought it was a great college soccer game and one that could have gone either way. They are always going to be a very talented team, and we will have to match them in a number of areas to come away with a result.
On Sept. 27, the Badgers will host Michigan at the McClimon Soccer Complex in their first home conference game. Rohrman predicts an exciting match for Wisconsins home Big Ten opener.
Michigan is going to be a very good team this year, with a number of their players gaining some quality experience last season. They were relatively young last year, and they will be quite talented this fall. We had a chance to play them this spring and it was a very competitive and even match.
Wisconsin continues conference play against Michigan State on Oct. 5 in East Lansing, Mich., and hosts Northwestern on Oct. 12. Mid-week, UW scheduled the annual match with in-state rival UW-Milwaukee at home on Oct. 8.
Both the Badgers and the Panthers look forward to competing each year.
Whenever we play UWM, or any in-state program, it is a real treat as it always brings out the best in each team, Rohrman explains. The history, rivalry, and tradition that come with playing any of the state schools is great for the state of Wisconsin and for college soccer. Certainly having a team like UWM at home should give us an edge, but records, past results, and home-field advantage can be thrown out the window in these matches.
The Badgers play their last two conference games in mid-October, traveling to Ohio for a bout with No. 2 Ohio State on Oct. 18, and hosting Penn State for their final conference game on Oct. 26.
They will wrap up the regular season with an away game against Northern Illinois University on Oct. 29 and a home game against Drake on Nov. 5.
From Nov. 13-16, the Badgers will host the Big Ten Tournament at the McClimon Soccer Complex. Fans will have one last chance to watch Wisconsin battle Big Ten rivals at the end of the fall soccer season.
It is a great honor to be able to host the Big Ten Tournament this fall, Rohrman states. We are certainly looking forward to hosting one of college soccers premier events in the fall and showcasing the talent and caliber of Big Ten mens soccer teams. I know that Madison will be in for a great weekend of soccer as we bring in some of the best mens soccer teams in the country.