Oct. 11, 2009
MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin men’s soccer team played employed both new and veteran Badgers on Sunday’s epic win over Big Ten rival Michigan State.
The game featured new faces in the starting lineup as part of a new-look 4-4-2 formation, including Colin Mani, making his second-consecutive start, and first-time starters Danny Ahlering and Max Wilson.
A freshman who had yet to set foot in a game for the Badgers before Sunday, Ahlering affirmed, “I knew I was ready to step in and play,” and he went on to prove it for all 105 minutes of UW’s 2-1, double-overtime victory.
Ahlering aided in the Badger’s success with a pass to Brandon Miller to set up Scott Lorenz’s game-tying goal in the 15th minute.
“We did well this game … we needed this to kind of get going,” Ahlering said. “I think the second half of the season is going to go a lot better and we’ve got some momentum after this win. “
Joining Mani as part of the new-look back row, Ahlering played in place of junior Aaron Nichols, who sat out Sunday’s contest due to injury, and made his presence felt from start to finish.
“He’s been hoping for an opportunity,” UW head coach Todd Yeagley said of Ahlering. “Opportunities come in creative ways, and now it’s going to be difficult to take Danny out of the field.”
While Mani and Ahlering filled the void left on defense by injuries to Nichols and Cale Cooper, Wilson was tasked with filling in for Austin Spohn in the midfield. Spohn, who received two yellow cards in last week’s loss to Michigan, was ineligible for Sunday’s contest.
Senior Taylor Waspi, normally an anchor of UW’s defense, also slid up into the midfield as the Badgers went with the 4-4-2 formation.
Wilson played 78 minutes in his first career start, missing time only because of an injury near the ned of the first period. Mani and Ahlering, meanwhile, logged all 105 minutes for the shorthanded Badgers and contributed to a total team effort that has the Badgers back on the winning track.
“From front to back, this was our best performance of the year,” Yeagley said. “Our toughness, team defending and our ability to get the ball to our key players and put pressure on the other team” were crucial to that performance.
The Badgers hope to leave their three-game losing streak behind them an start a fresh win streak when they take on Green Bay in a difficult road matchup Wednesday.
Yeagley and his staff placed a special emphasis on getting a fresh start for the second half of the season, and Sunday’s win certainly was a confidence-builder for that final stretch of eight games. As Yeagley put it, “Today, we’re 1-0.”
“After seeing the way we played today, I think we could make the postseason,” Ahlering said, “and maybe make it pretty deep in the Big Ten tournament.”