As part of our preseason coverage leading up to the Wisconsin mens soccer teams season-opener on Sept. 4, UWBadgers.com is offering up short lists of what fans should look for this fall in the What to Watch 4 series. Today, we take a look at four games to keep an eye on this season.
Indiana Sept. 25, McClimon Complex
This ones been circled on the calendar since the Badgers released their schedule back in May, and its easy to see why. Not only does the Badgers conference-opener come against the team favored to win the league, but it will be the 100th Big Ten Conference game in both teams history and comes as the finale of a doubleheader that also includes the UW womens team.
Then theres the Yeagley connection. In addition to being Todd Yeagleys first Big Ten game as a head coach, it comes against his alma mater and the school his father built into a dynasty. The younger Yeagley won two national championships as an assistant coach with the Hoosiers before coming to Madison over the winter.
Add in the fact that the road to each of the Badgers five NCAA tournament berths has gone, in one way or another, through the Hoosiers and its easy to see theres plenty riding on the contest. Its even easier to see when placed in the context of the Badgers 2009 schedule, as the game will be the third of six-consecutive matches for the Badgers against 2008 NCAA Tournament teams and is their only home game in a 34-day stretch between Sept. 6 and Oct. 11.
at Illinois-Chicago Sept. 30, Chicago
The Badgers first mid-week game of the season also is likely to be one of their most difficult, as the Flames enter the year ranked 10th and are extremely tough to beat at home, losing just once in 11 home matches last season.
UIC could prove to be the Badgers toughest non-conference opponent, and it comes at a difficult time on the schedule. The match will be the Badgers fourth-consecutive game against a 2008 NCAA team and comes on the heels of their emotional matchup with Indiana in the conference-opener just five days earlier.
Theres also a Hoosier connection in this game, by the way, as UIC head man John Trask was an assistant at Indiana during UW coach Todd Yeagleys playing days in Bloomington.
History is on the Badgers side, as UW is 2-0 all-time against the Flames in Chicago and has won four straight in the series overall. It will be the sixth meeting between the squads since 2001.
Michigan State Oct. 11, McClimon Complex
The Badgers second game of the rugged conference schedule offers yet another challenge, as defending Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion Michigan State returns to the McClimon Complex for the first time since winning their league title last November.
The Spartans, ranked No. 20 to start the season, mark the last of six-consecutive NCAA tournament qualifiers the Badgers will face during a brutal stretch of the schedule and are the only foe UW will take on at home during a 27-day span from Sept. 25 to Oct. 21.
In a game televised nationally by Big Ten Network, the Badgers seek their first win against MSU since 2005.
Marquette - Oct. 21, McClimon Complex
Geography gives the Badgers three natural rivalries, but they face only one of those in-state foes on their home turf this season.
Having played eight of their previous 10 matches away from home, the Badgers face Marquette to open what could be a crucial three-game homestand late in the season that includes a conference showdown with Ohio State. The match also will be the second of three against the Badgers in-state rivals, as they travel to Green Bay to take on the Phoenix a week earlier.
Coming off a difficult road matchup at Northwestern four days earlier and with the Buckeyes looming four days later the Badgers will look to make the most of the opportunity to hold serve at McClimon against an improving Marquette squad.
The Badgers swept all three in-state rivals a year ago, including a 1-0 win over Marquette in Milwaukee, and own a six-game unbeaten streak against the Golden Eagles.
2009 Preseason Coverage
- Aug. 19 - sportid=122&storyid=18679"> --> Practice Report #1
- Aug. 19 - sportid=122&storyid=18676"> --> Q&A with Big Ten Network's Richard Broad
- Aug. 18 - sportid=122&storyid=18668"> --> What to Watch 4: Key Players
- Aug. 17 - sportid=122&storyid=18661"> --> Know a Newcomer: Kyle McCrudden
- Aug. 17 - sportid=122&storyid=18656"> --> Coach Yeagley's Blog: Looking forward to fall