The Wisconsin mens soccer team (1-1-0) looks to improve its record in the Coca-Cola Panther Classic Sept. 11-12 in Milwaukee at Engelmann field.
The Panther Classic is the longest-running Division I tournament in the nation and is currently in its 32nd year. The Badgers are no stranger to the tournament, as this year marks the 14th season they have participated. The most recent appearance was in 1999 when they won both games against Eastern and Western Michigan, but were edged out of the tournament title by UW-Milwaukee who also won both games and had more points. Wisconsin did win Panther Classic Championships in 1988, 94 and 96.
This year, the Badgers hope to add another tournament title to that list. To do this they must get by Penn (0-1-0) on Saturday at noon, and Tulsa (1-0-1), Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. UW-Milwaukee (0-0-2) is also in the tournament; however the Badgers will not play them in head-to-head competition.
Wisconsin has never faced Penn, so the game should bring surprises for both teams. Penn went 6-9-3 in 2003 and is coming off a 3-1 loss to Villanova. Although the Quakers have a solid core of returning players, they lost stand-out goalkeeper Matthew Haefner who was named the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2002.
Senior tri-captains Stephen Kroculick, Dave Maier and Erik Hallenback will lead the charge for Penn. Kroculick led the team in points and goals in 2003 and received honorable mention honors on the All-Ivy League team. Maier was tied with Kroculick for points and led the team in assists. These two players will be a dangerous combination up top for the Badger defense to contain. Hallenback anchors the Penn defense as a two-time All-Ivy League honoree.
In Sundays match-up against Tulsa, the Badgers must be at the top of their game. Tulsa is ranked 20th in the NSCAA/adidas rankings, and College Soccer News. They finished the 2003 season 13-6-2 and took second place in the Missouri Valley Conference.
From the 2003 squad, 17 letter winners and six starters are returning including All-American Ryan Pore and senior Kyle Brown. Both were named to the 2004 preseason All-MVC team and last seasons All-Midwest Region first team. Pore was also the leagues MVP in 2003 and was the second-leading scorer in the nation. Add Daniel Wasson, the NCAAs 7th leading scorer in 2003, who transferred to Tulsa from the United States Air force Academy, and the Badger defense will have quite a challenge.
Wisconsin has faced Tulsa four times in history and is currently leading the series 3-1. Look for the Badgers to add to this success this Sunday at the Panther Classic in a tough match-up. Stay tuned to uwbadgers.com for more tournament updates.