After a string of hard-fought wins and close losses, the Wisconsin mens soccer team (5-5-0) opens its Big Ten schedule at home this Sunday at noon against Ohio State (1-6-1).
UW will carry momentum into Sundays match from its most recent 2-0 victory against Illinois-Chicago Wednesday night. Senior tri-captain Erol Goknur scored his first goal of the season (and second of his career) plus an assist for a three-point performance, while freshman Jake Settle made his first career start in goal for the Badgers.
The Buckeyes come into Madison struggling offensively after four straight shutout losses. The Buckeye defense, however, is a force of its own. Ohio State has the top-ranked defense in the Big Ten and averages less than one goal allowed per game. OSU will play Evansville (4-2-1) Friday before making the trip to Madison.
Wisconsin will rely on junior forward Jed Hohlbein to lead its offensive assault against OSU. Hohlbein ranks first in six Big Ten offensive categories, including goals, goals per game, points and points per game. Fellow junior forward Nick Van Sicklen also ranks among the conference elite in several offensive categories.
If history is any indication, though, Wisconsin will need to be on top of its game to pull out a win over Ohio State. The past four match-ups between these two teams have been split, decided by one goal and two have gone into overtime.
Adding to the excitement of the Big Ten season-opener, this weekend is also UW Alumni Weekend. Several past mens soccer players, including former letterwinners Mark LaPorte, Mike Grosse, Mike Epp and Aymar Sinaise will play in an alumni game, Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the practice facility just north of Camp Randall Stadium. Badger alumni are also invited to watch their team take on the Buckeyes Sunday at noon at the McClimon Soccer Complex.