With the Wisconsin men's soccer team's Big Ten Conference opener against Indiana quickly approaching, head coach Todd Yeagley met with the media as part of UW Athletics' weekly press conference Monday to look ahead to Friday's matchup.
Yeagley looked back at the Badgers' productive weekend in the Milwaukee Panther Invitational before addressing the emotions that are in play for UW's battle with the Hoosiers and the team's excitement for the Pac the Mac festivities planned for Friday's doubleheader, which also features the UW women's team taking on Purdue at 5 p.m.
A complete transcript of Yeagley's remarks can be found below, and archived video of the news conference is available, as well.
TODD YEAGLEY: Well, before we get into the weekends matchup, I just want to say that I was proud of the group this past weekend. We played what I feel may be one of the top teams in the country, UC Santa Barbara, on Sunday and got a very good result, one that we were three minutes away from, I think, a result this program could really move forward with with a win. However, we went to draw, and the team, I think, did take a good step forward, and that will help us for this weekend coming up against an Indiana team that is loaded all over the field. But again, I think the preparation weve had in these early matches, starting with an exhibition game against Akron, whos No. 1 in the country, has helped us for this match on Friday.
QUESTION #1: In what part of the game have you seen the most improvement over the last few weeks, defensively, offensively, the whole shebang
YEAGLEY: Well, I think we have made strides offensively. I think our ball movement, our awareness, the combination plays improve each game, but Im really keen on the defensive side and making sure that we make it difficult for opponents. I think last weekend was a tough weekend, some scenarios with cards affected certainly the score of those games. However, this past weekend, the first weekend were more of what I expect, and thats a very disciplined group and one that makes it difficult for teams to play in. But I think each game weve gotten better offensively.
And again, Santa Barbara, I thought, in the first half we were as good or better. And again, this is a team I expect to be in the College Cup. So this group took a lot of confidence away from this past weekend.
QUESTION #2: Whose idea was it for Pac the Mac, and is your club looking forward to it
YEAGLEY: We are. We are looking forward to it. You know, my staff was the one that decided to lets go ahead and make this as emotional as we can for all of us, because theres quite a bit of emotion this game. Im trying to tell the team that its just one game, and thats what it is, but there are certainly a lot of subplots to this match. And I know that the team will be prepared for Indiana.
We used to talk about it all the time that these opportunities are ones you have to take a hold of and cherish every moment . . . have these unique opportunities, and this one, being at home with now having fans on the field, which I think is a great addition for the program, to allow students to get closer to the match. And Indiana is going to be coming in with a lot of firepower. So its going to be an exciting match, and I think the crowd will really give us the boost that were going to need.
QUESTION #3: Think one of the subplots, Todd, has to do with your background with Indiana. Wouldnt you say thats one of them
YEAGLEY: Thats the subplot, yeah. We, again, were trying to focus on the match and not think too much about the uniqueness of seeing Indiana on the other side. I know the players, right when we left the bus last night, you know, I said this game is now behind us, the Santa Barbara game. I said, good result. Its behind us. Now we have Indiana, and you could just see the smiles on all the players on what they know what this game means.
But really for me, I have to put the emotional part aside and prepare the team for a team again thats capable of being in the College Cup. So to me, its work ahead, but, yeah, therell be a little bit more emotions flowing for this game.