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Stretch run begins for Big Ten-leading Badgers

ON WISCONSIN <b>Taylor Waspi is one of nine Badgers who will be honored as part of Senior Night on Wednesday</b>
Taylor Waspi is one of nine Badgers who will be honored as part of Senior Night on Wednesday

Oct. 27, 2009

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MADISON, Wis. -- The surging Wisconsin men's soccer team, winner of four of its last five matches, heads into a pivotal stretch run with a pair of games this week.

The Badgers (6-6-2, 3-2-0 Big Ten) close out a three-game homestand by facing Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. Wednesday in their final home match of the season before returning to the road for their Big Ten finale against Penn State at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Big Ten Network will air the game on a tape-delay basis at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.

Game 15| Northern Illinois (8-6-1) vs. Wisconsin (6-6-2)
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 28
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Madison, Wis.
Site: McClimon Complex (4,500)
Tickets: $5 adults, $2 youth/seniors
Online: GameTracker | Live Blog
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 16-10-0

Roster | Schedule | Stats | News | Record Book

Northern Illinois
Roster | Schedule | Stats | News | Media Guide

Online Coverage Expands
Fans unable to attend the Badgers' matches in person can stay close to the action at home thanks to a pair of additions to online coverage of home games at UWBadgers.com. Live stats will continue to be offered for every home game in 2009, but fans can now enjoy a more in-depth presentation of the events on the field through GameTracker from CBS College Sports.

In addition, soccer fans will be able to follow along with the live, interactive in-game blogs that have become popular for a number of Badgers sports on UWBadgers.com.

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Looking Back
The Badgers picked up where they left off the previous week, scoring a pair of shutout wins to move back to the .500 mark for the first time since Sept. 20.

Jon Rzepka's first career goal, as well as a score from senior Eric Conklin, helped lead the Badgers past in-state rival Marquette on Wednesday.

Sunday, the Badgers picked up their third-consecutive conference win and moved to the top of the Big Ten standings by blanking No. 25 Ohio State on the strength of goals from Danny Ahlering and Taylor Waspi.

Sitting last in the Big Ten standings, at 0-2-0, after a 3-0 loss to Michigan on Oct. 4, the Badgers have rattled off three-consecutive league victories to move to the top of the conference rundown.

With nine, the Badgers stand two points clear of second-place Penn State, although the Nittany Lions are one of five Big Ten teams with a pair of conference games remaining.

Sunday's 2-0 victory over Ohio State gave the Badgers three Big Ten wins for the first time since going 3-2-1 in the league during the 2006 season.

With their win over the No. 25-ranked Buckeyes on Sunday, the Badgers improved to 2-1-1 against ranked opponents this season.

In its first 14 games, Wisconsin has faced eight teams that qualified for the 2008 NCAA Tournament, posting a 4-3-1 record against those opponents.

After losing three straight by a combined score of 7-0 between Sept. 25 and Oct. 4, the Badgers have now won four of their last five matches, outscoring those opponents by a 8-3 margin.

The Badgers scored multiple goals in a game just once over the course of their first nine matches, but have done so in each of their last three games, and four of their last five.

Wisconsin owns a 4-1-1 record in home games this season, including three straight wins.

Scouting the Opponent: Northern Illinois
The Huskies head to Madison -- and its projected low temperature of 40 degrees for Wednesday -- coming off a 3-1 win Sunday over Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla., where temperatures hit the mid-90s.

Much like Wisconsin, NIU is in the midst of an offensive outburst, having tallied eight goals in its last two matches after being limited to a combined two goals in its previous four games.

For the year, the Huskies are outscoring their opponents by a full goal per game, having tallied 27 while allowing just 12 goals to the opposition.

Interestingly, NIU has surrendered just one goal in the first half this season, outscoring their opponents 15-1 in the opening period.

The Huskies have found success away from home, posting a 3-2-1 record in road games. That includes an impressive 1-1 tie with North Carolina on Sept. 4 and a loss to top-ranked Akron on Oct. 17 in which NIU allowed the Zips a single goal.

Individually, NIU has three players who have each found the net five times, and seven players who have recorded multiple goals on the season.

Jordan Godsey has been rock-solid in goal for the Huskies, posting a 0.70 goals-against average and an .857 save percentage while starting 14 of the team's 15 games so far.

About the Series
Wednesday's contest will be the 27th meeting between the Badgers and Huskies, who face off for the seventh-consecutive season. Wisconsin leads the teams' all-time series, 16-10-0.

The teams have met regularly since the Badgers jumped to varsity status in 1979, playing in all but four of the 30 seasons that have followed.

All-time, the Badgers own an 9-4-0 record against Northern Illinois in games played in Madison. That includes a mark of 4-3-0 in contests held at the McClimon Complex.

After a dominant run by the Huskies from 1997 to 2006, in which NIU won eight of the squads' nine matches, Wisconsin has claimed each of the teams' last two meetings by a combined 5-0 score.

Eric Luzzi is in his first season as head coach at Northern Illinois after spending the past three years as an assistant on Steve Simmons' staff at NIU. As an assistant coach, Luzzi went 1-2-0 against Wisconsin.

UW's Todd Yeagley, in his first season, will face the Huskies for the first time as a head coach. Yeagley faced NIU twice while an assistant coach at Indiana, with the Hoosiers posting a pair of 1-0 wins over the Huskies in 2006 and 2007.

Last Meeting
Oct. 29, 2008 -- Last season, Scott Lorenz's 31st-minute goal was all the Badgers needed to score a 1-0 win over the Huskies in DeKalb. Alex Horwath scored his fifth shutout of the season to help preserve the win for Wisconsin despite facing 16 shots from the Huskies.

Here's Jonny
Junior midfielder Jon Rzepka continued the road back from a foot injury that kept him sidelined for the entire 2008 season at the Milwaukee Panther Classic.

Rzepka was in the starting 11 for the Badgers' Sept. 18 matchup with Oakland, marking his first start since Oct. 20, 2007.

Rzepka has played in all six of UW's games this season after making his return to the field in the Badgers' season-opener against Virginia Tech on Sept. 4.

Sweet Home, Milwaukee
Wisconsin's 19th appearance in the 36-year-old Milwaukee Panther Invitational (Sept. 18-20) was another productive trip to Milwaukee for the Badgers, who went 1-0-1 on the weekend and earned a runner-up finish in the event.

The Badgers' 1-1 draw with UC Santa Barbara was UW's first-ever tie in the event and moved the Badgers' record in the tournament to 25-12-1 all-time.

The Badgers also improved their all-time mark at Engelmann Field to 27-16-6.

Feels Like the First Time
Freshman Ata Ozbay made the first start of his career Sunday against San Diego State, and has now appeared in all four of the Badgers' matches in his rookie season.

Sophomore Mark Roos, also a forward, is the other UW player to make his debut in the starting lineup this season. He has started all four games for the Badgers.

Also making their Badger debuts against San Diego State (Sept. 13) were sophomore goalkeeper Jamal Habibi, who played 27 minutes in relief of an injured Alex Horwath, and sophomore forward Ross Seagram, who scored his first goal with UW in the second half.

Penalty Killers
The Badgers have gone 31 consecutive matches without being awarded a penalty kick, dating back to Oct. 13, 2007. The last time a UW player converted a penalty kick attempt into a goal was one game earlier, when Sho Fujita netted a PK in a 1-1 tie with Milwaukee on Oct. 10, 2007.

The Badgers have given up five penalty-kick goals since their last try from the penalty spot, including three game-winning scores and a game-tying goal. Two of those game-winners came in consecutive games at the hands of San Diego (Sept. 11) and San Diego State (Sept. 13).

The Badgers are 0-3-2 in the matches in which they've given up a PK during the streak. Here's a breakdown of those games:

10/20/07: Penn State (1st half) -- T, 3-3 (2OT)
9/27/08: Michigan (2nd half, 00:24 left) -- T, 1-1 (2OT)
10/5/08: at Michigan State (2nd half, 6:00 left) -- L, 1-0
9/11/09: at San Diego (1st half) -- L, 3-0
9/13/09: at San Diego State (2nd OT, 00:31 left) -- L, 3-2 (2OT)

On the Board
Mark Roos' game-winning goal in the 90th minute of the Badgers' win over Western Illinois (Sept. 6) snapped a scoreless drought of 199 minutes, 57 seconds for the Badgers. The streak was the longest dry spell to open a season in school history.

The Badgers' longest opening scoring drought prior to this season was 152:46, which came when UW opened the 1998 season with a 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois (9/4/98) and then scored in the 63rd minute of a 4-1 loss to Richmond (9/6/98).

Horwath Honored
Senior goalkeeper Alex Horwath posted back-to-back shutouts to open the season, blanking both Virginia Tech (Sept. 4) and Western Illinois (Sept. 6), to earn Defensive MVP honors at the Middleton Sports and Fitness Invitational.

Horwath, who has moved into fifth place on the Badgers' all-time shutouts list with 15 for his career, was then named Big Ten Defensive Player of Week by the league for the week of Sept. 7.

Yeagley Makes Wisconsin Debut
Todd Yeagley became the fifth head coach in Wisconsin men's soccer history when he was hired on Dec. 18, 2008. He made his head coaching debut when the Badgers took on Virginia Tech on Sept. 4, becoming the first UW head man to start his career with a tie.

Here's a look at how UW coaches have fared in their first game at Wisconsin:

Bill Reddan (1977): W, 3-1 (at UW-Parkside)
Jim Launder (1982): L, 0-1 (vs. Cleveland State)
Kalekeni Banda (1997): W, 3-2 OT (vs. Davidson)
Jeff Rohrman (2002): W, 4-0 (vs. Iona)
Todd Yeagley (2009): T, 0-0 2OT (vs. Virginia Tech)

Reddan Heads to Hall
Wisconsin soccer pioneer Bill Reddan was among those inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 4 as part of the Class of 2009.

The school's first men's soccer head coach, Reddan is credited with founding the UW program first as a club sport and then guiding the Badgers after the program achieved varsity status in 1977.

Reddan compiled a 49-27-9 record in his five seasons as head coach, led the Badgers to their first-ever NCAA tournament berth in 1981 and served as an assistant on UW's 1995 NCAA championship team.

Network Connection
For the third-consecutive season, the Badgers will have at least two of their regular-season matches televised nationally by Big Ten Network. UW's home game against defending Big Ten champion Michigan State (Oct. 11) will be carried live by the network, while the Badgers' conference finale at Penn State (Oct. 31) will air on a tape-delay basis on Nov. 1.

Badgers Picked for Fifth
Wisconsin has been tabbed to finish in a tie for fifth place in the Big Ten Conference this season, according to the league's annual preseason coaches' poll. Indiana was picked to win the league, which features four teams ranked in the preseason NSCAA Top 25.

2009 Big Ten Preseason Men's Soccer Poll
1. Indiana
2. Northwestern
3. Michigan State
4. Ohio State
5. Penn State, Wisconsin
7. Michigan

McCrudden One to `Keep an Eye On'
Freshman defender Kyle McCrudden has been named to College Soccer News' annual list of `100 Freshman to Keep an Eye On.' Last season, then-freshman Colin Monasterio was named to the same list and went on to earn Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors in his rookie year at UW.

Examining the Exhibitions
Wisconsin begins the regular season on the heels of a pair of exhibition contests in which it went 1-1. The Badgers opened the preseason with a 1-0 overtime win over UW-Parkside on Aug. 24 and then dropped a 2-1 decision to No. 3 Akron on Saturday (Aug. 29) at the National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ind.

NSCAA/adidas Top 25
College Soccer News Top 30
SoccerTimes.com Top 25

Big Ten Conference standings

Big Ten Conference
NCAA Men's Soccer
Big Ten Network
College Soccer News
Soccer America
National Soccer Coaches Association of America

Men's Soccer vs Marquette
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