To mark the 10-year anniversary of Wisconsins first and only NCAA mens soccer championship, the University is welcoming back members of the 1995 team whose incredible season made Badger history.
The team will be honored during the Wisconsin-Iowa football game this weekend. The introduction will recognize all UW mens soccer alumni with returning players from the 28 years of great Badger soccer. Prior to the game the 1995 team will be honored at the annual W Club banquet, Friday at the Concourse Hotel.
Under the guidance of head coach Jim Launder, the Badgers had appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1991, 93 and 94 with a 3-3 record in those games. The 1995 season was the right year. With eight seniors on the roster and four of the five scoring leaders from 1994 returning, the team showed promise, but no one knew just how much.
After the NCAA title game, captain Scott Lamphear said, Its unbelievable. It is something no one even thought about. It is not a goal you set. Just to be in this situation and actually do it is amazing.
Seniors Mike Gentile and Lamphear captained the group, leading them to a 15-4-1 record and a Big Ten title before starting the NCAA post season.
Despite having won the Big Ten tournament and receiving an automatic bid to post-season play, the Badgers were not given any favors and had five games to play before the title would be theirs.
First up was Bowling Green. The Badgers scored two second-half goals for the win. Next against William & Mary, the Badgers squeaked out a 1-0 overtime win. The win pitted them against Southern Methodist on Dec. 3, 1995. Again, the Badgers waited until the second half to score two goals and shut out the Mustangs. The victory gave them a spot in the national semifinals. It was the first time the UW had been in the elite group and they were cruising on a five-game shut out streak.
Facing off against Portland in the semifinal game, the Badgers Lars Hansen scored at 63:29 and kept the Pilots out of the game. Wisconsin was going to its first NCAA championship game! Later that same day, Duke beat the reigning national champion Virginia and was riding high.
The Dec. 10, 1995 game was played in Richmond, Va., on a clear and cold day in front of 21,319 fans. Fifth-ranked Wisconsin took an early lead vs. Duke with a goal at 8:12 thanks again to Hansen. After halftime, the Badgers came back with another goal 17 minutes into the second period as junior Chad Cole scored the unassisted goal. The insurance goal gave the Badgers the feeling things might really be falling into place.
Right after Chad scored, I knew it was over really, Lamphear said. It was all over. We had all the confidence in the world. We were no longer going for the winwe were going for the shutout, basically.
With backup goalkeeper Jon Belskis in for the injured Todd Wilson and a stingy Badger defense, Duke was held to just six shots in the game. Meanwhile, the Badger offense peppered Dukes keeper, who made 10 saves that day.
Throughout the year, the team had prided itself on its defensive capabilities.
We thought all along there is no team in the country as good as we are defensively, said Cole after the title win. In the seasons 25 games, the Badgers gave up just 11 goals and registered 17 shutouts.
Lamphear commented after the game that it had been a goal to prove their defensive prowess, It didnt seem the players and the team got the respect we deserved and we took a lot of pride in our defense. Its everybody on the team. Everybody from the backs to the front line put it all together.
The team would get the shutout and become not only the first Badger mens soccer program to win the national title, but their five-game shutout run in the tournament was a first for the NCAA and has not been repeated since.
This team played better and better all postseason and the final four was the climax, said Launder. We played out best soccer of the year and beat the best teams in the country. I couldnt ask more of this team.