Wisconsin blanks Loyola Chicago, wins 13th straight home game

Senior midfielder and defender Enda O'Neill helped UW blank Loyola Chicago 2-0.

Image By: Mara Matovich

There’s no place like home for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s soccer team (1-1 Big 10, 3-1-2 overall). Riding a 12-game home winning streak came into Saturday night looking to notch another home victory. And while it took them a bit to get going, they mustered enough offense to beat the Loyola Chicago Ramblers (0-2 Missouri Valley Conference, 3-4) last night 2-0, extending their home winning streak to 13 games.

Loyola had the first shot of the game in the 13th minute when sophomore midfielder Aidan Megally’s strike from outside the box was blocked by the Badgers’ defenders. Loyola had a little better possession to start the game, but it was a very slow start for both teams.

Wisconsin had its first chance in the 23rd minute, when senior midfielder Mike Catalano won the ball high up the field and started the counter. Catalano found senior forward Tom Barlow at the top of the box, who tried to find some room to shoot, but laid it off back to onrushing sophomore midfielder Noah Leibold. The German’s shot blazed over the bar, but the interplay looked promising, as the Badgers’ midfield was starting to enforce their will.

The pressure continued for Wisconsin as it kept knocking on the door. Catalano then saw a good strike go just wide, and Barlow rose for a header that just passed the wrong side of the post. It looked like a score was inevitable and finally in the 31st minute UW was able to get on the board.

Senior forward Chris Mueller intercepted a Loyola pass and proceeded to shoot. His strong shot was saved by Rambler freshman keeper Aidan Aylward, but the ball spilled away and into the path of Barlow. The St. Louis native struck home a true poacher’s goal, his second in as many games, to give the Badgers a 1-0 advantage.

After halftime, it was more of the same for Wisconsin’s midfield. Led by Mike Catalano, the Roselle, Ill. native was a true thorn in the side of the Ramblers as he constantly won back possession and controlled the game. In the 53rd minute, Catalano mazed into the box and was struck down by a Loyola defender, earning the Badgers a penalty kick. Chris Mueller stepped up to take it, and his strike went under the keeper to double the lead for the Badgers.

Loyola responded with more impetus after the goal, and had its best chance of the night came in the 57th minute. Senior forward Elliot Collier darted across midfield, muscling off Wisconsin defenders with his 6’4” frame. The Kiwi striker found junior forward Alec Lasinski with a perfect through-ball, only for Lasinski to hit his shot over the bar. That was the best chance for Loyola.

Badgers’ keeper Philipp Schilling came up with three saves but was never called into serious duty. Wisconsin did a good job of shutting off the attacks early, and it recorded its first clean sheet of the season.

“[Earning clean sheets] is something you have to be able to do in college soccer so I was proud of that,” head coach John Trask told UWBadgers.com after the game. Earning a clean sheet will be tougher next game, as UW will travel down to Durham, N.C. to face the No. 23 Duke Blue Devils this Wednesday.

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