Crucial fixture ahead

first_imgSix-straight losses by a combined score of 9-2 — that’s the current plight of the Wisconsin men’s soccer team. It hasn’t been pretty — actually, far from it. That’s usually how watching a club struggling to score is. But, the most frustrating part for the Badger coaching staff has to be this: they haven’t been playing that badly.Now that’s not to say this team has deserved to get positive results in all six of those matches. To argue that is about as ill advised as contending that the Yankees are going to win the World Series this year.But has UW really deserved its cruel fate? Jeff Rohrman’s club has out-shot its opponents in three of those six matches, placing more of those shots on goal than the other side in two of them. The overall numbers are lopsided (91-66 in favor of UW’s opponents in shots), but take out the two losses Wisconsin suffered in the Great Northwest, against Washington and Portland, and the ratio tips considerably in the Badgers’ favor (52-38).Last Tuesday’s road loss to instate rival UW-Milwaukee was a perfect microcosm of the Badgers’ season thus far.Despite out-chancing the Panthers, with five shots on goal and six corner kicks to UWM’s two and three, the Badgers left Engelmann Field with a 2-0 loss. Milwaukee scored its two goals on a penalty kick and a breakaway, while Wisconsin squandered chances — Panthers’ goalkeeper Grant Fernstrum stopped UW captain Aaron Hohlbein’s penalty kick as part of his clean sheet.And that’s pretty much how it has gone for the Badgers of late. Hohlbein has done what he can in the offensive end, but let’s face it — relying on a center back to lead the scoring attack is a tall order.Redshirt freshman Victor Diaz entered the season with high expectations, mainly the result of his Real Madrid youth team pedigree, and has had his moments — don’t be thrown off too much by his statistics (one goal and no assists). However, Diaz has found it difficult to dribble through the entire final third; again, a difficult task. He has looked good as a playmaker underneath the forwards and has created his fair share of chances.The prevailing thought at the beginning of the fall was that this Wisconsin team was just that in the offensive end — a team. Returning players acknowledged the fact that at times last year they placed the offensive burden on then-seniors Nick Van Sicklen and Jed Hohlbein instead of taking accountability in the attack. This year was supposed to be about a wide range of goal scorers, with the team’s youngsters stepping to the forefront. And many of those players have emerged as playmakers in the midfield — B.J. Goodman, Erik Ortega and Kenny Dix in particular. But something is just not there.What Wisconsin is missing is a player capable of finishing, regardless of the quality of goals. Trash goals are pretty nice anytime; they’re even better when you flat out cannot score. And right now, Wisconsin flat out cannot score.Not the best position to be in heading into a date with two-time defending national champ Indiana. And right now, this is a huge match for not just this season — this game holds significance for the program in general.Ironically, Indiana is a team Wisconsin has played fairly well against recently. The past two match-ups have ended in 1-0 Hoosier victories.With a win, Wisconsin could get back on track to salvaging their season somewhat. That’s what a victory against a team that has lost only five Big Ten matches since 1991 can do. And considering this disastrous stretch, finishing anywhere near the .500 mark would be a decent season.On the flip side, a loss would drop UW’s record to 4-9-0, and besides being out of the NCAA tournament picture long ago, the Badgers will be looking to avoid a winless conference season, finishing the year in the midst of a collapse and putting some pressure on Rohrman. Does Rohrman deserve it? Considering the fact that he is just now coaching a team composed of his recruits, not really. But it’s hard to know how the university will handle the program. After all, it did decide to fire a head coach a year after he brought a national title to Madison. And that would be an even crueler fate than this program deserves.last_img

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