The Wisconsin men's soccer team finally returns home and opens Big Ten play Friday with a highly anticipated matchup against the No. 13 Indiana Hoosiers at the McClimon Soccer Complex as part of the ""Pac the Mac"" doubleheader.The Wisconsin women's team faces Purdue at 5 p.m., while the men play at 7 p.m.
All students can get into the game for free and watch the game from field level with a student ID.
The Badgers are coming off a strong performance last week at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Invitational.
Wisconsin topped Oakland 1-0 Friday, powered by senior Brandon Miller's goal in the 63rd minute and a shutout from senior goalkeeper Alex Horwath. Sunday brought more solid defense from Wisconsin, as they nearly defeated No. 9 UC-Santa Barbara, before surrendering a late goal and battling to a 1-1 draw.
The defense solidified itself after back-to-back losses in which their opponent scored a total of three times.
""We played some great teams and put in a strong effort,"" Miller said. ""I think we're moving into Indiana feeling real good about it. Defense is a lot of the focus; one slip up and you could be the reason for giving up a goal. It's going to take a lot of focus from everybody to get the job done.""
Head coach Todd Yeagley also expressed confidence in the way his squad has improved through the non conference portion of the schedule.
""The areas that we've focused on, our ball movement and sharpness offensively, have improved, as well as our attention to detail defensively,"" he said. ""Our overall team shape gets better with each game.""
Adding fuel to the fire in the matchup is the connection between the Yeagley, and the Hoosiers organization. Yeagley won three national championships and garnered All-American recognition four times in four years under the tutelage of his father, Jerry Yeagley. The elder Yeagley served as the head coach in Bloomington for four decades and is the NCAA's all-time wins leader in men's soccer with 544 victories.
The combination of a nighttime home game, a ranked conference opponent and facing their coach's alma mater has created plenty of excitement in the Badgers' lockerroom.
""It motivates us; Friday night under the lights, it doesn't get much better so we're pretty excited about it,"" junior defenseman Aaron Nichols said.
""This is something you go to bed every night thinking about. This is why we play soccer, for things like this, for a game with emotion,"" Miller said.
The overall series between Wisconsin and Indiana is a completely one-sided affair, with Indiana rolling up a 30-3-4 record against the Cardinal and White. However, Wisconsin found success against quality competition last week, and a win this weekend would jump-start a Big Ten season filled with promise and potential for the Badgers.