Seeded fourth in the 2004 Big Ten Championship tournament, the Wisconsin men's soccer team (9-9-0, 2-4-0 Big Ten) will play No. 5 seed Michigan State (9-6-1, 2-4-0 Big Ten) Thursday at 8 a.m. CT on host Michigans U-M Varsity Field.
The Badgers will be looking for a repeat of their earlier win over the Spartans when they take the field in Ann Arbor. Wisconsin earned its second Big Ten win of the season just over a week ago after defeating Michigan State 2-1 in East Lansing, Mich., Oct. 31.
Senior tri-captain Nick Van Sicklen scored both Badger goals to give the Wisconsin mens soccer team a 2-1 victory over the Big Ten rival. Combined with two goals vs. UW-Green Bay on Oct. 27, Van Sicklen was named the Big Tens Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
After scouting his competition first hand, head coach Jeff Rohrman is enthusiastic about the Badgers chances in Thursdays game and down the stretch in the tournament.
Going in we should feel confident, said Rohrman. Were right on par with (all the Big Ten) teams. Every (game) we dropped was a one-goal game, and in every one of those games we had good chances to put it away.
The senior leadership will be all important for the Badger attack with a healthy Jed Hohlbein back in action and the conference goal-leader, Van Sicklen up top, Rohrmans roster is healthy and he is excited about the possibilities they can create.
Obviously, Jed Hohlbeins been out for a period of time and having him back this last week and having him perform the way he did against Marquette with three goals helps us, commented Rohrman. It takes a little bit of the pressure off a guy like Nick Van Sicklen. So having two guys that can put the ball in the net is certainly going to help us this weekend.
Not to detract from the underclassmen, newcomers B.J. Goodman, Erik Ortega and Nick Caronna combined with sophomore Aaron Hohlbein and anchored by senior midfielder Noah Goerlitz, the back two-thirds have proved its worth providing good chances for the attack while hindering the opposition.
Should the Badgers earn the repeat win, UW will face the nationally-ranked, reigning national champion and No. 1 seed Indiana Friday at 10:30 a.m CT in the first semifinal game.
Follow the men's soccer team at the Big Ten Championship, log on to uwabdgers.com for all of the updates and results.