The Wisconsin mens soccer team returns to Madison for its last regular season and conference game against Northwestern at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at McClimon Soccer Complex. The winner of the all-important conference battle will claim third place in the Big Ten Standings and third seed in the Conference Tournament Nov. 11-14 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sunday is also Senior Day, as five Wisconsin seniors, Noah Goerlitz, Eric Hanson, Jed Hohlbein, David Martinez and Nick Van Sicklen, will play their last career home game at McClimon.
The Badger seniors have had a remarkable year and hope to build on their success into the post season. The seniors combine for two-thirds of the Badger's 94 total points and help anchor the defense, midfield and front line.
Goerlitz, a Badger tri-captain, is the rock of the midfield. He currently has five assists on the season, good for second on the team. As a four year letter winner, Goerlitz has made significant contributions in every season, as he was named the Most Improved Player in 2001, two-time Academic All-Big Ten in 2002-03, and Second Team All-Big Ten in 2003.
Hanson, another 2004 tri-captain and four year letter winner, currently leads the Big Ten Conference in saves with 68. He has played all 17 games this season for the Badgers and is allowing just over 1.5 goals per game. Hansons effort has moved him to sixth on Wisconsins all-time career saves list with 233, and fifth in career wins with 28. In 2003, Hanson was named the Big Ten Player of the Week twice, and named to the All-Big Ten Second Team.
Hohlbein, after transferring to Wisconsin last year, has made his mark as a Badger. He currently has nine goals in nine games for Wisconsin and one assist, good for second on the team in points. With three hat tricks as a Badger, Hohlbein set Wisconsins all-time hat trick record. Two of his hat tricks came this year as he led the Badgers to victories over Dayton and Marquette. In 2003, Hohlbein led the team in scoring with nine goals, including three game-winners and was named to the All-Great Lakes Region Third Team.
Martinez is also a four year letter-winner for the Badgers. He currently has one goal and two assists from the forward position. He scored the game-winning goal in 2003 to move Wisconsin past Ohio State and to the semi-finals in the Big Ten Tournament. In 2002, he was named the Rocky Rococo Wisconsin Soccer Classic Offensive MVP after scoring two goals and an assist to help Wisconsin win its third straight classic title.
Van Sicklen, a four year letter winner and tri-captain, could not be having a better senior season. He currently leads the Badgers in points (31) goals (12), assists (7) and shots (52). With these impressive statistics, Van Sicklen currently leads the Big Ten in total points and goals, and is fourth in assists. He was also named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and to the Soccer America National Team of the Week twice. Additionally, Van Sicklen was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week once.
In 2003 he was named the teams offensive MVP and was a Second Team All-Big Ten recipient. In 2002 he was named to the All-Midwest Region Team, First-Team All-Big Ten and Co-Offensive MVP of the team. Van Sicklen currently sits fourth on Wisconsins all-time career points list, fifth in all-time career goals, seventh in most goals and points in a season, and ninth in career assists.
Behind these outstanding seniors, the 2004 Badgers hope to end regular season play with a victory over the Wildcats. Wisconsin has had success against Northwestern in the past, leading the all-time series 22-3-4.
Last year, the Badgers and Wildcats battled to a 0-0 tie at Northwestern in early November. Northwestern finished last in conference in 2003 with a 0-3-3 record, but has rebounded this season knocking off Indiana in October. This loss was the Hoosiers first conference loss in 50 games. Northwestern was also ranked in the top 25 teams nationally by NSCAA for the first time in program history in the Oct. 26 rankings.
The Wildcats are led by sophomore Gerardo Alvarez, who is second to Van Sicklen in the Big Ten in goals (11) and points (29), and also has seven assists. Defender Brad Napper is second on the team in scoring with seven goals and one assist, and David Roth leads the conference with ten assists. Goalkeeper Justin Pines has a 6-1 record with two shutouts and was named the Big Ten Defensive Week Player of Week after shutting out Indiana. Pines and Napper were both named to the Soccer America National Team of the Week once this season.
Northwestern is a very good team, head coach Jeff Rohrman said. They have really come a long way this season and will be a great test for us.
Stay tuned to uwbadgers.com for Sundays results.