The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team (0-2-2, 0-0-0 Big Ten) fell to the DePaul University Blue Demons (2-5-2, 2-5-0 Big East) in a 0-1 loss on first Sunday of September.
The Badgers entered the match looking to secure their first win before facing larger Big Ten teams such as Maryland and Indiana later in the season.
Wisconsin has struggled in recent games to capitalize on their strong possession and reliable defensive line, scoring just one goal in their previous three games. The Badgers lost to UW-Green Bay Aug. 29 and tied Western Michigan in two overtime periods on Sept. 2 at home.
The Badgers held strong possession in what was a tactical first half for both teams. They were able to play the ball out from the back and set a slow tone from the beginning, but they had trouble penetrating the 18-yard box. Defenders Moritz Kappelsberger and Zach Klancnik were stepping to interior passes early and able to stave off most crosses from DePaul wingers.
The Badgers began to create more scoring opportunities in the 27th minute when Wisconsin’s head coach John Trask subbed Aron Eli Saevarsson on for Ben Leas. Saevarsson made an immediate impact, using his six-foot-five stature to win critical headers and allow Wisconsin to send more crosses into the center of the pitch.
DePaul goalkeeper Gandhi Cruz made a critical save in the 31st minute after a long throw led to a cross and a scramble for the ball in the box, forcing Cruz to dive to his right. Another threatening chance came minutes later when Wisconsin forward Jack Finnegan crossed the ball to Tim Bielic, who had his shot blocked within the six-yard box.
The Badgers outshot the Blue Demons 12-2 over the course of the game.
DePaul came out on the offensive in the second half, leading the formerly calm Badger defensive line to commit more fouls. Midfielder Jacob Huth offered pace on the left side for DePaul and created excess space for his team to take possession in the center of the field.
The Badgers succumbed to this pressure and committed a foul in a dangerous spot on the left corner of the 18-yard box in the 64th minute. DePaul forward Jack Richards hit the ball to the edge of the wall, which deflected into the center half of the net as Badgers goalkeeper Carter Abbott dove to his right.
Wisconsin became desperate following the goal. They pressed and created multiple scoring opportunities, including Noah Mellick’s shot that went wide left and Andrew Akindele’s half volley from a cross in the last ten minutes.
Ultimately, DePaul held off the Badgers until the final whistle. The Badgers’ narrative was directly parallel to the Aug. 29 game against UW-Green Bay, where the dominant Wisconsin possession was no match for the opponents’ ability to score a rare free kick opportunity.
The Badgers return to the Dan McClimon Memorial Soccer Complex Friday night, taking on the Butler Bulldogs (1-1-1, 0-0-0 Big East). Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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