The University of Wisconsin men's soccer team kicks off the regular season this weekend with a pair of contests at the McClimon Soccer Complex. Playing host to the 21st Annual Middleton Sports and Fitness Invite, the Badgers will open up the regular season slate with a match against Virginia Tech Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The match is set to follow a 5 p.m. contest between Western Illinois and UW-Milwaukee, and the four teams will wrap up the invite Sunday with two more matches. Virginia Tech and Milwaukee will get the action started at 11:30 a.m., and the event will conclude with the Badgers taking on Western Illinois at 2 p.m.
Wisconsin enters the regular season looking to build on a 2008 campaign that saw the Badgers compile a 9-7-3 record but finish a disappointing 1-4-1 in Big Ten play.
On the bright side, Wisconsin will return seven of eleven regular starters. This group includes senior goalkeeper Alex Horwath and senior forward Scott Lorenz.
The Badgers will also look for contributions from a four-man freshman class that includes 2008 Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Year Kyle McCrudden and Derek Pitts, a local graduate of Middleton High School.
First-year head coach Todd Yeagley will also make his regular season debut Friday.
As Yeagley starts his first year at the helm for the Badgers, he has an impressive playing career to draw on.
Yeagley won three national championships and was a four-time All-American at the University of Indiana. After college, Yeagley was a defender in the early years of the MLS with the Columbus Crew.
This is his first year as a collegiate head coach.
The Badgers split a pair of pre-season exhibition matches, defeating UW-Parkside 1-0 in overtime on Aug. 24 before suffering a 2-1 loss to the No. 3 Akron Zips last Saturday in Fort Wayne, Ind. Wisconsin also put together an impressive exhibition showing this spring, going 2-0-2, including a 5-0 win against UW-Milwaukee and a 1-0 win over Loyola. The Badgers fought to draws with Illinois-Chicago and Sunday's opponent, Western Illinois, en route to outscoring its opponents 7-1 over the four matches.