Sept. 2, 2013
• Trask News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's soccer head coach John Trask met with members of the media Monday at Camp Randall Stadium to review the Badgers' season-opening draw at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and look ahead to Friday's game vs. Western Michigan.
Video of Trask's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
TRASK: Yeah, just an exciting time of year for us. Starting the regular season, we had a good adventure to UMKC this weekend. Fell behind, but showed some resilience in the last moment of the first half.
We got the goal back and had some good chances to probably score the second, still cleaning up a few things within the team.
Obviously, the preconference schedule with our nonconference segment of our season is very important to prepare us for the Big Ten. Looking forward to being back at home in Madison for the week, obviously, Western Michigan, and then we play DePaul Sunday afternoon. It will be two good contests.
PAC the MAC and a lot of local people talking about it in the soccer community, and hopefully students will have a great crowd.
Got some exciting new players on the team, some of our freshmen coming in, Skyler Felt, Nick Jones, and Brian Hail did an outstanding job for us, adding the 13 seniors and some of the other core guys we have on this year's team. Excited about the season and still feel good about things.
You'd always like to get a result on the road, but in soccer, sometimes the tie is -- it's not something that's going to hurt us down the road as long as we do what we need to.
QUESTION: Coach, can you talk about what you saw from Casey (Beyers) and Max (Jentsch) that you like and maybe things to improve on between now and Friday.
TRASK: Casey right now has won the goalkeeper position. We feel very good about both he and Max, a senior with a lot of experience. Casey is a big kid, 6'5". Got some training over the summer with D.C. United in the MLS franchise. He's come back, and he's very confident.
Our goalkeeper coach Stan Anderson has been working very hard. He gives us a presence. He's got a voice back there.
While some people would say a bit of a goalkeeper error on the first goal, we know there's going to be moments like that with a young goalkeeper. He's a redshirt freshman. But we feel like he's the guy in net for us at this point.
We'll stick with him, as I told him. There's no goalkeeper controversy. He's our No. 1 right now.
He did some very good things as well. With both sides of the field, he just gives us a nice presence in goal at this point.
QUESTION: When you have such a big senior class, 13 kids, how much hunger is there on this team to, with their last year, go to the postseason and do something they haven't done in quite a long time here?
TRASK: I think there's a fine balance there. I do believe the experience helps you. I also think maybe it showed up a little bit this past weekend that the guys aren't playing free. They're a little bit stiff. I think when you -- you want to say underachieved or not accomplished much in your careers yet, you come into your senior season, and I think we're pressing a little bit.
That's something we've talked about as a staff. We've talked to the guys on the team. We've got great leadership. We've got a lot of great kids. Now they've just got to go out there and enjoy themselves and make the most of every moment instead of worrying about one result going one way or the another.
Really working on their confidence that they can play the way they're capable of.
QUESTION: With (Tomislav) Zadro back this season, how much help is this for the team? It's got to be pretty huge, isn't it?
TRASK: It is huge. Obviously, he's coming off an ACL injury. It's been a year and a half. Tomo was first All-Big Ten selection his first year here. Obviously, as stated in other articles and different things, he's the quarterback of the team. He's the guy that can make the play for us in the attacking part of the field.
We've got other good play makers, but he's the one. His size and his strength, he's a little bit older than some of the other guys, 24 years old, so he's got a lot of experience. You know, he's the guy that's going to make us go.
If we're going to be in the top tier of the Big Ten and have a chance to be in the NCAA Tournament, a lot of that falls on Tomo's shoulders. He's got the quality. I thought he was a little subdued in this game for what he's capable of, and I think part of that is that it's his first regular season game in a year and a half.
I think we'll see a different player on Friday nights. We've seen a different player in our training sessions. When he's on, we have a chance to be pretty good going forward.
QUESTION: Coach, you had six corner kicks in the game but only one goal. Is that something that you're going to maybe work on between now and Friday, making the most of those opportunities?
TRASK: Yeah, the service was pretty good by Tomislav. He's one of those players as well that can really whip in a good dead ball. We've been working on the timing. We've had a few injury concerns.
A.J. Cochran is probably our main target on those and had to miss a couple of days with a bit of a groin injury last week. So we weren't able to prep as much on that. That's something we'll be spending time on every single day in practice. Should be a strength.
We've got two or three guys that are capable winning air balls in front of the other team's goal, and the quality of the service is a big part of it. So it has to be -- you know, in soccer, set pieces win games, especially in college, and we need to have a very good plus-minus ratio on that.
We're very solid defensively right now on set pieces, but we've got to start finding goals off of that.
QUESTION: Just a general question, but what is the personality of this team right now? What would you like to see it become maybe by Big Ten season, end of the year?
TRASK: You know, as I said, it's a group that, while they've been here, we had some success two years ago, and then with Tomislav out last year, it was a bit of a disappointing year.
We are battling a few injuries with some of those seniors. It would be nice if all 13 of them were available right now because a couple of our core guys like Chris Prince just had surgery the other day for meniscus. He'll be out eight days, maybe two weeks.
But getting that whole group out there because I think there's an energy about them and a desire to do something before they leave campus. When it's your last hurrah, I know as a former student-athlete myself, that last year, you put everything into.
I think we're going to. I just -- as I mentioned, I think right this second, we're a bit hesitant because we feel like, whoa, we've got 16 or 17 games left in our senior season, and we need those guys just to bring the experience but go out there and enjoy themselves and get after it in a positive way.
QUESTION: You mentioned Chris Prince earlier. Which are the other core guys you expect to contribute this season aside from Tomislav and A.J. Cochran?
TRASK: You look across. Paul Yonga is a senior captain. Blake Succa's been at it as a captain as well.
Trevor Wheeler is out with an injury. He started 57 games in his career. So getting him back into the mix.
You blend in some of the quality of the juniors, A.J. Cochran and David Caban, as well as some of the new quality we brought in, a freshman and a junior college transfer in JunHo. This is the first time I've felt good about the competition.
I feel like we're two, possibly even three deep in a lot of spots across the field, and everybody knows, motivation sometimes comes best when there's competition for those spots. It's something we've been looking to achieve since I've been here.
It's year four. It doesn't happen overnight to get that type of competition. Part of it is coaching up student-athletes who wanted to be at UW as well as going out and finding new talented players to join the mix. So we -- we feel like there's a healthy competition, and hopefully guys are going to relish that challenge.
It's not guaranteed that you're going to be on the field for 90 minutes every single game just because you've been there in the past.
QUESTION: I'm not trying to get too far ahead from this weekend, but are there any games in particular this season, home games or away games, that you're looking forward to seeing the guys battling?
TRASK: Yeah, obviously, the next two games this weekend is hugely important. They are nonconference, but for RPI as well as getting wins underneath our belt. Then we have a very tough trip down to play South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast, two tournament teams, which will help us RPI-wise as well and really tell us where we're at, much more probably the quality of Big Ten teams.
And then we play Indiana, the national champs, at home on a Friday night before the Northwestern football game on homecoming weekend, which will be a fantastic game, I'm sure.
And there's some very good teams in the Big Ten across the board, we've got Michigan State coming to town. That will be a very formidable test for us. And then some of our in-state rivals. Marquette will be coming. I believe they're 12th in the country or something like that right now. So there will be some derby games that will be very interesting, midweek games as well for people in the community and students to come out.