The Wisconsin mens soccer team proved again Friday it has no problem living on the edge, as the Badgers scored a dramatic, 1-0 overtime victory over No. 20 Santa Clara on the opening day of the Middleton Sports & Fitness Invitational at the McClimon Complex.
The Badgers came out on the winning end of a physical battle thanks to perfect execution on a free kick just over a minute into the overtime period that ended with junior athid=6006&deptid=122"> --> Taylor Waspi tapping in the game-winning goal in the 92nd minute.
As a result, the Badgers are 3-0-0 to begin a season for the first time since head coach staffid=350"> --> Jeff Rohrman s first campaign in 2002 and scored their first win over a ranked opponent since knocking off 20th-ranked Gonzaga on Sept. 14 of last season
That early success is the product of coming through in close games. Fridays win was the Badgers second overtime victory of the season, and each of their three wins has come by a one-goal margin.
Thats the difference between this year and last year, that we know how to win in overtime, said Waspi, who now has two goals for his career. This team just has a completely different mindset.
Were not going to lose, and thats it.
After a foul and yellow card were issued to Santa Claras Jalil Anibaba just 1 minute, 28 seconds into extra time, junior athid=5964&deptid=122"> --> Pablo Delgado fired a ball toward Broncos goalkeeper Kevin Klasila off the subsequent free kick. Klasila was forced to go to the ground on the initial strike and then was unable to defend Waspis second effort.
Pablo hit a perfect ball, Waspi said. He dipped it down and it hit the ground first and the goalie bounced it up, just like we planned. I just followed it in.
In addition to defending the free kick, however, Klasila also was battling the elements, as a steady rainfall took hold over the McClimon Complex at the outset of the overtime period. Delgado, who notched his team-leading second assist of the season, used the conditions to his advantage.
Pablo did a tremendous job of recognizing that the field was wet and he needed to get it on goal and make things difficult for the goalkeeper, said Rohrman. As a result, you get a loose ball and Waspi was there to pounce on it.
Thats where experience comes in. A guy like Pablo, you dont need to tell him what to do because he understands the situation and executes.
The quick burst of offense stood in stark contrast to a match that was a defensive struggle throughout the 90 minutes of regulation. The teams combined for just 17 shots over the first two periods, with Wisconsin finishing with a 12-6 advantage in total shots. The Badgers had six shots-on-goal, compared to four for the Broncos.
The match was a physical tussle played largely in the midfield, a fact backed up by the 28 fouls called on Santa Clara and the 17 whistled against the Badgers. The teams combined for 28 fouls in the second period alone, and four yellow cards also were handed out.
Ive been in physical games, but that one was pretty rough in the middle, Waspi said. Its tough playing against all those 6-4 guys when Im at 6-foot.
Six players on the Broncos roster are listed as being at least 6-foot-4, a number the Badgers lineup could not measure up to. Goalkeeper athid=6384&deptid=122"> --> Alex Horwath is the only 6-4 player for the Badgers.
Horwath was strong again in goal for the UW, notching four saves and lowering his goals-against average to 0.63 on the season. On the other side of the field, Klasila platooned in goal with teammate Jeremy Del Re due to a facial injury Klasila sustained in the first half, and the duo combined for five saves.
The Broncos, picked in the top five of every major preseason poll, slipped to 0-3-0 on the year and will take on UW-Milwaukee at noon Sunday to close out their play in the Middleton Sports & Fitness Invitational. The Panthers also won in dramatic fashion Friday, breaking a scoreless deadlock with a game-winning goal with just 42 seconds remaining in regulation to defeat Dayton, the Badgers next opponent.
Wisconsin and Dayton (2-1-0) will face off at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the McClimon Complex.