The Wisconsin mens soccer team has been tabbed to finish fifth in the Big Ten Conference this season, according to a preseason poll of the leagues head coaches released Wednesday.
The Badgers, coming off a seventh-place Big Ten finish last season, are picked to finish in a tie with Penn State for fifth place in the seven-team league. Indiana is the coaches preseason favorite, followed by Northwestern, defending champion Michigan State, Ohio State and the Badgers and Nittany Lions. Michigan rounds out the poll.
Wisconsin went 1-4-1 in league play a year ago as part of a 9-7-3 season and was eliminated by Michigan on penalty kicks in the first round of the 2008 Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State swept the Big Tens regular-season and tournament titles last season.
A total of four Big Ten squads enter the 2009 season ranked in the NSCAA Top 25, led by Indiana at No. 7. Northwestern is ninth in the preseason coaches rankings released Tuesday, followed by Michigan State at No. 20 and Michigan at No. 22.
Under the direction of first-year head coach staffid=1074"> --> Todd Yeagley , the Badgers return 14 letterwinners from last season, including seven of their 11 starters. In all, the Badgers return 72 percent of their minutes and four of their top five scorers from a year ago.
Wisconsin begins the season by hosting UW-Parkside in an exhibition game at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 before traveling to Fort Wayne, Ind., to face preseason No. 3 Akron in an exhibition match as part of the National Soccer Festival on Aug. 26.
The Badgers open the regular season Friday, Sept. 4, by hosting Virginia Tech in the Middleton Sports and Fitness Invitational at the McClimon Complex.