Soccer looks for conference win

first_imgFollowing a four-game winless stretch that included a couple of top 25-caliber opponents, the Wisconsin men’s soccer team looks to regroup during a full week of practice and rest before hitting the pitch again to take on defending Big Ten champion Michigan State Sunday.After tying No. 7 UC-Santa Barbara 1-1 and losing to No. 14 Indiana 1-0, Wisconsin tailed off against Illinois-Chicago and Michigan, losing both games 3-0. Now with a week to prepare for their next test, Wisconsin head coach Todd Yeagley relishes the extra amount of time given to readdress some enduring issues.“We’ll work on fitness this week as much as we can, and we’ll certainly be around goal quite a bit,” Yeagley said. “With this week, we’re really getting back to some principles to making sure we’re sound.”Wisconsin (2-5-2, 0-2 Big Ten) has been outscored 8-1 over the past four matches, which accounts for more than half of the 14 goals the team has allowed through nine games. The offense has produced only five goals in return this season and has been shut out in each of the last three games.“I think at any time you have a little bit of a tough run scoring goals, once you get that one (goal), things tend to turn,” Yeagley said. “So we’re really looking forward to getting that goal.”Senior forward and team captain Scott Lorenz, who leads his team with 19 shots and nine shots on goal, has been held scoreless so far this season. He shares similar thoughts with his coach on the difficulties of scoring.“They say the first one is the hardest to get,” Lorenz said. “You can’t let that ruin the rest of your game. You got to play and you got to know that it’s going to come.”As a result of its week off, the team has been able to confront problems that otherwise would go unaddressed during a normal two- or five-day break between games. Yeagley has emphasized the psychological aspect of the game, communication and overall consistent play.Beyond that, the team has also made sure to put what is in the past behind them and look forward to the next challenge.“That’s the charge that we’ve given the team,” Yeagley said. “We have eight games left and we can really put ourselves in a good position in the conference.”Wisconsin has been winless against Michigan State over the past three meetings, having lost the last two games. This year, Michigan State (6-3-1, 0-2) brings a team that has been in and out of the top-25 rankings and arrives at Sunday’s matchup looking for its first win in the Big Ten.“Their group is confident,” Yeagley said. “They’ve also dropped a couple tough ones in conference already. They’re hungry for their win, as are our guys.”Michigan State has suffered 1-0 losses in the Big Ten to Ohio State and Penn State, both of which have received top-25 considerations.Sophomore forward Rubin Bega and junior goalkeeper Avery Steinlage anchor the Spartans’ offensive and defensive units. Coming off a two-goal performance against Western Michigan, Bega leads his team with seven goals this year, while Steinlage has posted five shutouts.“Michigan State is always good up top — they always have good players,” senior goalkeeper Alex Horwitz said. Yeagley, however, has made it a point to mark Bega and make sure he has a quiet day.“Rubin’s a nice player,” Yeagley said. “We’ll know what his strengths are — as well as a few of their other players — and make sure that we try to limit their effectiveness in the game.”Once their week of reconditioning is up, the Badgers say they will be primed, physically and mentally, to rebound against Michigan State and revamp their season.“We’re eager to bounce back,” Lorenz said. “You never like to go through a spell like this — you always try to avoid it. But once you’re out of it, you’re out of it. You put it in the past.”last_img

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