The Wisconsin Badgers men’s soccer team closed out their season on Sunday afternoon, defeating No .14 Michigan 3-2 at McClimon Field in Madison.
In a back and forth affair that featured plenty of punches and counter-punches, it was Michigan who struck first in the final match of the regular season. The Wolverines earned a penalty in the 20th minute, and senior captain Marc Ybarra made no mistake from the spot to put the visitors up 1-0. Just before halftime Zach Klancnik struck back for Wisconsin, deflecting an errant Wolverine clearance into the back of the net to level the scoring.
In the second half, Derick Broche would pull Michigan ahead once more with a stellar solo goal, but once more the Badgers clawed back to equal terms behind a close range finish from Noah Melick. And then with just under ten minutes to go the Badgers went ahead for good, with Henri Tophoven powering home a near post header from Murat Calkap’s corner.
With the three goals scored by three different players, and three more players on the scoresheet with assists, Sunday’s win represented a total team effort by the Badgers. In a tough game against a conference top dog that required every member of the squad to step forward, Wisconsin rose to the challenge. Though the Badgers will end the season eliminated from Big Ten title contention, they will head into the offseason on a positive note, a win that can be built upon.
With large swaths of the roster returning for the fall season in just a few months, there’s certainly reason for optimism that postseason soccer, if not perhaps in national tournament (though you never know in soccer), will be returning to Madison by the end of 2021.
“We spoke as a team after five games about the second half of the season and to go 2-2-1 in our last five matches shows the growth and continued maturity within the group,” head coach John Trask said after the match.
The win lifts Wisconsin to a 2-7-1 record to close the season, while the defeat drops Michigan to 5-3-1. The Badgers failed to qualify for the Big Ten tournament as the last-placed team in the conference, but will return to action in just a few months (rather than the usual year-long break) when college soccer returns to its normal, COVID-free, schedule in the fall.