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Big Ten leaders set to clash in pivotal match

ON WISCONSIN <b>Freshman Danny Ahlering has started six straight games for the Badgers</b>
Freshman Danny Ahlering has started six straight games for the Badgers

Oct. 31, 2009


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MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin men’s soccer team’s Big Ten Conference title hopes go through University Park, Pa., this weekend as UW seeks its fourth-straight league win.

The conference-leading Badgers (6-7-2, 3-2-0 Big Ten) face off with second-place Penn State (9-5-2, 2-1-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday in a matchup that will have major implications on the Big Ten standings.

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

Game 16| Wisconsin (6-7-2, 3-2-0) vs. Penn State (9-5-2, 2-1-1)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: University Park, Pa.
Site: Jeffrey Field (3,500)
TV: Big Ten Network (Dean Linke, Richard Broad)
Online: GameTracker
All-Time Series: Penn State leads, 11-9-2

Roster | Schedule | Stats | News | Record Book

Penn State
Roster | Schedule | Stats | News | Game Notes

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.

Become an Insider
Sign up now to receive the Badger Men's Soccer Insider, a service of BuckyMail, and stay current with the latest news and features on the UW men's soccer team. Subscribers will receive a weekly e-mail with news and links to all things Badger soccer, directly to their inbox. You can sign up for BuckyMail and the Badger Men's Soccer Insider by clicking here.

The Weekend Ahead
The Badgers enter their Big Ten finale two points clear of Penn State in the standings, but the Nittany Lions are one of five league teams that have two conference games remaining.

A win for UW would mean only Northwestern or Indiana could catch the Badgers in the title race, and both of those squads would have to win each of their final two Big Ten games to surpass UW.

To get to that point, the Badgers would have to do something no other team has done this season — win at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions enter Saturday’s match 6-0-2 in home games on the year.

Looking Back
The Badgers saw their three-game win streak snapped Wednesday in a 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois in their home finale at the McClimon Complex. UW managed just six shots and had no answer for Juan Hoyos’ game-winning goal in the 85th minute.

Sitting last in the Big Ten standings 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.

Since that loss to Michigan, the Badgers are 4-2-0, including a 3-0-0 mark in Big Ten play, and have scored 13 goals. The Badgers scored just five times in their first nine games.

Last 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.
Against Penn State, the Badgers seek a fourth win in Big Ten play for the first time since 1995.

The Badgers’ last Big Ten championship also came in 1995, when they shared the title with Penn State and went on to win the NCAA championship, as well.
Wisconsin hasn’t lost to Penn State since 2005 and is 4-1-1 in its last six meetings with the Nittany Lions, including a 1-1-1 mark in games played at Jeffrey Field.

Scouting the Opponent: Penn State
The Nittany Lions head into Saturday’s match coming off a 3-0 loss to undefeated and No. 1-ranked Akron on Wednesday, their second loss in three games.

Prior to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Ohio State on Oct. 18, Penn State put together a six-game unbeaten streak that included a 2-0 win over Michigan and 1-1 tie with Northwestern.

Penn State has been an extremely difficult team to face at home this season, allowing just three goals in eight games on their way to a 6-0-2 mark at Jeffrey Field. PSU has outscored its opponents 22-3 in those home contests and posted five shutouts.

The Nittany Lions have had little trouble scoring this season, posting 29 goals and being shut out just twice. Jason Yeisley leads the Lions with eight goals and is the Big Ten leader in shots.

Corey Hertzog has added seven goals and five assists for PSU, while Matheus Braga has five goals as well as five assists.

Defensively, the Lions allow just a goal per game and have seen goalkeeper Warren Gross post seven shutouts on the season.

Gross owns a 0.77 goals-against average and has stopped 80 percent of the shots he’s faced.

About the Series
The Badgers and Nittany Lions meet for the 23rd time on Saturday, with Penn State holding an 11-9-2 lead in the teams’ all-time series.

PSU won six straight against the Badgers from 1997 to 2001 but, since then, Wisconsin has gone 5-2-1 against the Nittany Lions.

That includes a record of 1-1-1 in their last three trips to University Park, where the Badgers are 3-5-2 all-time against the Nittany Lions. That includes a 3-4-2 mark in regular season games at Jeffrey Field.

Barry Gorman is in his 22nd season as head coach at Penn State and owns a record of 263-155-42 (.617) as coach of the Nittany Lions. Gorman has been at the helm of the PSU program for all 22 meetings against Wisconsin, owning an 11-9-2 mark against the Badgers.

UW’s Todd Yeagley, in his first season, will face the Nittany Lions for the first time as a head coach. During his playing days at Indiana, from 1991-94, the Hoosiers posted a 6-2-0 record against Penn State. As an assistant coach with the Hoosiers, Yeagley’s IU teams went 4-4-1 against the Nittany Lions from 2003-08.

Last Meeting
Oct. 26, 2008 -- Last season, Wisconsin scored its lone Big Ten win by breaking out for four goals in a 4-1 win over the Nittany Lions in Madison, The victory, highlighted by three assists from senior Victor Diaz, snapped a 12-game conference losing streak for the Badgers.

Moving On Up
Wisconsin jumped a staggering 57 spots in the latest Ratings Percentage Index, released Tuesday by the NCAA. The Badgers moved from 90th all the way to 33rd in the RPI, which is a primary tool for the determination of at-large bids for the NCAA tournament.

The Badgers’ 57-place jump was the third-largest of any team, trailing only Sacramento State, which improved 78 spots (92 from 170) and Missouri State, which jumped 63 spots (39 from 102).

The Badgers finished 39th in the final RPI of 2008 after posting a 9-7-3 record but were not selected to the NCAA tournament.

Who Knew?

Wisconsin and Penn State sit first and second in the Big Ten standings entering this weekend’s games.

Prior to the season, the Badgers and Nittany Lions were projected for a fifth-place tie in a vote of conference coaches.

Setting the Scenarios
The Badgers own a two-point lead over Penn State in the Big Ten standings entering the weekend, but much is left to be decided over the final two weekends of the season.

If they can earn a win over Penn State, the Badgers can clinch the title this weekend with a loss or tie by Indiana AND a loss or tie by Northwestern. Both teams have two conference games remaining.

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) was 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.

The Badgers picked up their first-ever win in a BTN-televised game when they downed the Spartans, 2-1, on Oct. 11.

Tale of Two Halves
After a brutal finish to the first half of the Badgers’ regular season that saw the team lose three straight by a combined score of 7-0, the UW coaching staff emphasized the importance of starting strong in the season’s second half.

Consecutive shutout losses to Indiana, UIC and Michigan — the program’s first three-game shutout streak since 1997 — dropped the Badgers to 2-5-2 after nine games.

The results have been clear since the second half started, as the Badgers are 4-2 over their last six games, including 3-0 in Big Ten play.

An End to the Drought

After scoring just five goals in their first nine games — and being shut out in five of those contests — the Badgers have scored 13 goals over their past six contests. That includes four of the team’s five multiple-goal games this season.

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

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 went 36 consecutive matches without being awarded a penalty kick before they were granted a PK chance against Northwestern on Oct. 16, a streak dating back to Oct. 13, 2007.

Senior Eric Conklin made the most of the Badgers’ opportunity by drilling the game-winning goal five minutes into overtime to give the Badgers a 2-1 win over the Wildcats.

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 had given up seven penalty-kick goals since their last try from the penalty spot, including four game-winning scores and a game-tying goal.

The Badgers went 0-4-2 in the matches in which they gave 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)
9/30/09: at UIC (1st half: 25th min.; 34th min.) -- L, 3-0

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.

Todd Yeagley

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.

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

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