The Wisconsin mens soccer team battled through a tie game with Oregon State before pulling out a 2-1 victory in the closing minutes of Sunday afternoons game at the Gonzaga Nike Soccer Classic in Spokane, Wash.
With the win, Wisconsin improves its season record to 4-0 while also claiming the Badgers second straight tournament title after sweeping the Rocky Rococo-Wisconsin Soccer Classic last weekend. Wisconsins Nick Van Sicklen and Joe Anderson were named the tournaments Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players respectively. Van Sicklen scored three points in Wisconsins 2-0 win over Gonzaga Friday afternoon and tallied two shots on goal against Oregon State, while Anderson helped lead a Badger defense that did not allow a defensive goal and played all 180 minutes of Wisconsins two tournament games. The lone goal against Wisconsin was off of a penalty kick.
This was a total team effort and everyone contributed to this win with their emotion and commitment, Wisconsin head coach Jeff Rohrman said. Our guys played with a lot of heart and a lot of guts. It was a good win against what will be a good team in the PAC-10 and our guys came up big.
Wisconsin started out sluggish against Oregon State, but the Badgers energy started to build with the energy of the game. After thirty minutes of scoreless action, sophomore midfielder Ryan Nord took the Wisconsin throw-in and served the ball to his Wisconsin teammates. UW defenseman and team co-captain John McGrady found the ball off of Nords serve connecting to true freshman Phil Doeh for the attempt.
Taking the ball high on a header, Doeh launched the ball to the upper corner of the net beyond the reach of Oregon States Peter Billmeyer for the Badger freshmans first career goal and the 1-0 lead over the Beavers.
The goal enlivened the Badgers further as the halftime break approached before Wisconsin lost senior Valentine Anozie to the bench due to injury. However, the team carried its renewed momentum into the second period holding Oregon State scoreless as the Badgers fought to hopefully post their fourth consecutive shutout in as many games.
Oregon State began to pressure Wisconsin for the equalizer and found their opportunity on a penalty kick with 11 minutes left in the game. With a foul called on Wisconsin in the box, Oregon States Aaron McHardy lined up the ball and placed it in the upper left corner of the UW goal for the 1-1 game. The Badgers rallied back following the Beaver goal and Wisconsin goalkeeper Eric Hanson redeemed himself on the next Oregon State opportunity by Joe Zaher. Hanson collected a solid stop on Zahers shot attempt and denied the Beavers any further goals. Sundays goal by Oregon State marks Hansons only goal allowed in four games for the Badgers.
With the clock winding down on the tie game, Wisconsins Erol Goknur controlled the ball on a Badger corner kick as his teammates looked for any final opportunities. Goknur lofted the ball to David Martinez for the shot and ensuing deflection by an Oregon State defender before UW midfielder Watson Vaughn Prather one-timed the ball for the Badgers game-winning goal. Wisconsin took the 2-1 lead on Prathers second goal of the season effectively shooting down Oregon States chances in the last few minutes.
We feel great and couldnt have finished that game any better, McGrady said following his teams win.
Oregon State was tough and they came back into the game. It was a battle all of the way, but we persevered in those last 11 minutes. We put a goal in and crushed them. It was a fight to the very end.
Looking ahead, Rohrman is pleased with Wisconsins record, but says the Badgers arent taking any opponent lightly.
It feels good to be 4-0 right now, he said, but were taking the season one game at a time and focusing on Fridays game against Valparaiso.
Wisconsin returns to the Midwest for three more games on the road. The Badgers face Valparaiso Friday, Sept. 13 at 5 p.m., followed by away games against Illinois-Chicago (Sept. 15) and UW-Green Bay (Sept. 18).
Gonzaga Nike Soccer Classic Champions: Wisconsin Badgers
Gonzaga Nike Soccer Classic Honors
Offensive MVP: Nick Van Sicklen, Wisconsin
Defensive MVP: Joe Anderson, Wisconsin
Outstanding Goalkeeper: Peter Billmeyer, Oregon State