Badgers shut out No. 25 Buckeyes in home victory

first_imgComing off a 2-0 win over in-state rival Marquette, the UW men’s soccer team tacked on its third straight shutout, this time by a 2-0 margin against No. 25 Ohio State.The win marks the Badgers’ third straight victory and their third conference win this season. Wisconsin had not recorded three wins in the Big Ten since going 3-2-1 in the 2006 season.UW’s recent surge could be attributed to its offensive improvement. After scoring five goals in the first nine games, the team has put up eight goals in the past five matches. The win is also the second time this season Wisconsin has defeated a ranked opponent, with the first one coming against No. 16 Northwestern.First-year coach Todd Yeagley gave credit to his reserves for the win. He noted the depth of players on the roster has been very strong in the second half of the season, which gives him more options and versatility to throw at opponents.After holding off a 15-minute barrage of Buckeye attacks, the Badgers got their first significant chance during the 16th minute when senior defender Eric Conklin collected his own rebound in the midfield, dribbled around two opponents and combined with senior midfielder Brandon Miller for a give-and-go, but Buckeye goalkeeper Matt Lampson tipped Conklin’s ensuing shot wide.The Badgers looked particularly dangerous Sunday on free kick situations. Junior midfielder Jon Rzepka said it was one aspect of the game the team had given special attention to before the game.In the 22nd minute, senior striker Scott Lorenz was given a free kick opportunity with a spectacular left footed shot that was again equaled only by Lampson, who was able to tip the ball just over the crossbar.The Badgers had to wait until the 32nd minute against the Buckeyes to get onto the score sheet, however.Sophomore defender Danny Ahlering picked up a loose ball deep in the midfield, rounded one defender and took a powerful right footed shot from 25 yards out, which curled past the outstretched arms of Lampson.“I don’t think I’ve ever scored outside the 18 (yard box) in my life,” Ahlering said. “I was the only one up there so I guess shooting was pretty much a last option.”Ahlering has started each game since he made his debut against Michigan State in place of junior defender Aaron Nichols and his presence on the field has been significant. Over the last five games he has started, the team has gone 4-1 with three wins against conference opponents.“I think Danny has been absolutely great,” Rzepka said. “Danny and Eric (Conklin), our center backs, both set the tone for the team. They aren’t giving the other team quality chances. I think we’re getting the run of play from them. They’re letting us possess the ball and are playing real solid…defense.”The Buckeyes looked to be the stronger team coming out of the halftime break. Within two minutes, the Badger defense looked confused when Ohio State freshman Chris Hegngi found himself wide open in front of the goal on the end of a free kick.But the young forward could not capitalize on the opportunity and sent the cross high over the crossbar.The Badgers’ hard work on free kicks finally paid off in the 56th minute. Freshman forward Ata Ozbay sent a curling free kick toward the head of senior midfielder Taylor Waspi, who in turn directed the ball into the back of the net.Following the Badgers’ second goal, senior goalkeeper Alex Horwath was pulled as a precautionary measure. Horwath picked up a hamstring injury last weekend versus Northwestern and did not play in the Badgers’ win over Marquette.Junior goalkeeper Ryan Vint entered to finish the shutout for the Badgers in his second career appearance.“We’re really trying to protect Al,” Yeagley said. “He’s a competitor and really wants to be out there. Yet we have a heck of a lot of confidence in our other goalkeepers.”The Buckeyes pushed forward in hopes of scoring, but their attempt opened up their defense to the Wisconsin attack. In the 60th minute, UW sophomore forward Mark Roos made a strong run down the left sideline and crossed the ball to an unmarked Ozbay who, to the dismay of the Badgers, directed the ball to the right of the goal.“We talked about moving the ball quick,” Rzepka said. “We tried to get the ball out wide as much as we could to isolate our outside midfielders with their outside backs.”Had it not been for the saves made by the Lampson, Wisconsin may have run up the score on the porous Buckeye defense during the second half. When the final whistle blew, though, he finished with just four saves.For the Badgers, while there are still three games remaining in the regular season, the team’s confidence has increased dramatically over the past several games. With the team finally beating quality opponents, Yeagley feels the Badgers have the tools to be successful down the stretch.“When you start to have some success, you can build and reflect and use that to move forward,” Yeagley said. “I think this group is believing. When you play well and believe, you can put yourself into good situations, and that’s what we’re doing.”last_img

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