Fans were encouraged to Pac the Mac for Fridays doubleheader of soccer at the McClimon Complex, and thats exactly what they did.
The Wisconsin womens team tied Purdue, 1-1, in front of a season-high 844 fans. The after-dinner rush then flooded McClimon to watch the UW men under the lights, with 1,703 fans taking in the teams 1-0 loss to No. 13 Indiana.
UW students received free admission to both games, which served as the Big Ten Conference opener for both the mens and womens squads, and received Badger red t-shirts from Big Ten Network.
That attendance number of 1,703 for the nightcap marked the largest turnout for a mens soccer game at McClimon in 12 seasons and was the sixth-highest since the stadium opened in 1993.
Throughout the years, the Wisconsin-Indiana matchup has proven to draw a large crowd at McClimon. Five of the top seven largest crowds took in matchups between the two teams. In fact, the last time Wisconsin defeated Indiana, a 2-0 win on Oct. 13, 1995, a McClimon-record crowd of 2,470 was there to see it.
Wisconsin head coach Todd Yeagley, a former Indiana player and assistant coach, feels fan support especially from UW students is a key element to the tradition hes attempting to build with the mens program.
If we can get these students back each game and continue to have the seats behind the goal, its a big advantage, Yeagley said after Fridays match. Our players before the game were talking about it right in the locker room going, `Guys, come on, look at this crowd, look at the students!
They felt it, and thats really the difference; it gives them a little bounce in their step.
UW Athletics placed bleachers behind each goal for Fridays games, allowing students an up-close-and-personal view of the game. Both goalkeepers felt the effects of Wisconsins cheering fans, although UW senior goalie Alex Horwaths experience was certainly different than that of Indiana keeper Luis Soffner.
The vocal group of students who filled the bleachers behind the goals had a preference for being at Soffners back, even switching ends of the field at halftime.
After such a great turnout, Horwath emphasized the importance of the fans support.
They were awesome, and that was the best environment Ive played in since Ive come to Madison, Horwath said. That definitely contributes to our effort and performance tonight.
I hope tonight some people became fans of Wisconsin soccer and will continue to come out. It really does help.
Fans are encouraged to continue to continue to show their support for both teams in upcoming home games.
The womens team welcomes Indiana on Sunday and Minnesota on Oct. 1, while the mens squad returns home to face defending Big Ten champion Michigan State on Oct. 11.