Wisconsin redshirt senior kicker Rafael Gaglianone had a chance to breathe life to a team that showed little-to-none on Saturday afternoon.
With less than a minute to go and a three-point deficit, Gaglianone hooked a 42-yard field goal hard left that would have tied the game at 24.
Gaglianone’s miss wasn’t the team’s first, second, or twentieth mistake UW committed as a whole, but it was their last as the Badgers lost 24-21 to the Cougars inside Camp Randall Stadium.
These moments can show a person’s character, and Gaglianone displayed his by owning his missed opportunity by apologizing to his teammates after the game.
Rafael Gaglianone says I’m sorry to nearly the entire @BadgerFootball team as they come off the field. But it shouldn’t have come down to that and mistakes on many levels doomed Wisconsin today #Badgers #Cougars pic.twitter.com/VxDzY5DGun— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) September 15, 2018
Gaglianone’s leadership resonated with his teammates after the shocking loss, especially through the eyes of a couple of senior captains.
“Raf’s a great guy, he’s a leader,” redshirt senior safety D’Cota Dixon said to reporters after the game. “He takes ownership and that’s just the type of person he is. I think we all are. All of our guys are kind of built like that. We take ownership of our one-eleventh. One of those touchdowns was because of me, specifically, and I know that, so it’s not just his fault. It’s not just my fault. It’s a football game. It’s a team. It’s 60 minutes of football, you know? And we just came up short today, but Raf is a leader and he’ll get better from this, too.
“We all will.”
Left guard Michael Deiter echoed Dixon’s sentiments, appreciating Gaglianone for facing his teammates but also acknowledging the team as a whole could have done more as well.
“Just goes to show that he’s going to put a lot of pressure on himself, and that’s the way football goes,” Deiter said. “It’s not like anyone’s mad at Raf or anything like that. You know he expected to make the kick. We expected him to make that kick, but it didn’t go that way. People expect me to make every block and sometimes it doesn’t go that way. It’s just the way football goes.
“You know you feel bad for Raf more than losing the game because you know the pressure he’s putting on himself. Like you said, he’s sitting there telling everyone, ‘Sorry, sorry.’ He doesn’t need to be sorry. We could have put him in a way better spot by playing a better football game up to that point, but it’s just kind of the way it goes.”
As players noted after the game, many of Wisconsin’s goals are still achievable so they will likely need Gaglianone to make some important kicks in the coming weeks of the season.
For Gaglianone, he noted the disappointment of missing the kick but his comments reflect a resiliency when coming back from adversity on the field.
“It’s a tough one,” Gaglianone said to reporters after the game. “Obviously disappointed letting the team down, but I’m not going to let one play define me or define this season. So [I am] just going to go back [to] work on Monday and just get better.”