The Wisconsin mens soccer team (3-5-0) will begin Big Ten conference action with a match against Ohio State (3-4-1) on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. The Badgers lost 1-0 to the Buckeyes in their 2003 Big Ten opener, and are looking for revenge in Columbus.
A win against Ohio State is crucial for Wisconsin who is currently on a two-game skid after close loses to IUPUI and Northern Illinois. The Badgers are looking to turn their season around and come out tough in Big Ten play.
Ohio State is coming off a 2-1 loss to Kentucky after romping Bowling Green 7-4. Senior forward Justin Cook leads the team in total points with ten, scoring four goals and notching two assists. Though he was silenced against Kentucky, he scored two goals and assisted one in the game against Bowling Green.
Cook has help from freshman Xavier Balc and sophomore Taylor Korpieski who each have three goals and two assists for eight total points. Four other Buckeyes have also scored, making for a balanced attack. Ohio State is currently third in conference in goals scored, and fourth in goals per game.
Defensively, the Buckeyes are not as dominant. They are last in conference in total goals allowed and give up, on average, two goals per game. Additionally, they are last in the conference in total saves. Both goalkeepers, freshman Casey Latchem and junior Ray Burse Jr. have seen minutes. Latchem is 2-3-1 with one shutout, and Burse is 1-1.
The Buckeyes also have a Wisconsin connection. Freshman Kyle Retzlaff from Brookfield, Wis. is on their 21-man roster and although he does not start, scored his first goal of his Ohio State career against Bowling Green last weekend. Retzlaff played on the same club team as Wisconsin freshman defender Nick Caronna.
The battle for the conference title will be fierce once again as three of the contenders; Michigan (13), Penn State (3) and Indiana (6) are among the top 25 teams nationwide according to NSCAA/adidas rankings. The Big Ten Conference preseason poll ranked Indiana (6-1-0) first, followed by Penn State (5-0-3) and Michigan (6-1-1), but the Badgers were predicted to finish just behind these teams in fourth.
Last year, Wisconsin finished fifth in the Big Ten with a record of 1-4-1 behind Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. However, in the Big Ten Tournament, the Badgers knocked off the Buckeyes 2-0, before eventually losing to Indiana, the tournament champions.
Sundays match up against Ohio State is the first of many crucial Big Ten games for the Badgers. On Sunday, Oct. 10, Wisconsin will face No. 3 Penn State at 1 p.m. at McClimon Soccer Complex. Before facing off against the Nittany Lions, Wisconsin will play rival UW-Milwaukee on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Stay tuned to uwbadgers.com for game results.