The Wisconsin men's soccer team can now breathe a sigh of relief.
After failing to win a match for nearly two months, the Badgers defeated UW-Milwaukee 2-0 behind freshman midfielder Nick Janus' first collegiate goal and two assists from senior forward Bryan Gerster for their second win of the season. Freshman goalkeeper Max Jentsch also recorded his first career shutout in the victory.
The story of the first half was Wisconsin's offense. With the team seemingly getting more comfortable with their 4-4-2 formation, the Badgers scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the match. Less than nine minutes into the game, Gerster made a run down the left side of the field before laying it off in the penalty box to Janus, who beat a defender before poking it past Milwaukee goalkeeper John Shakon.
For Janus, a prolific scorer in high school, that first goal was a long time coming.
""It just felt nice to get over the hump,"" Janus said.
It did not take long for Wisconsin to strike again. Just 31 seconds later, Gerster's cross from the right sideline found freshman midfielder Joey Tennyson at the near post for a textbook header goal. After the match, Gerster made it apparent he was much more concerned with getting the squad's first victory since the season opener than individual statistics.
""I don't really care if I get both of the assists as long as we win, which we finally did,"" Gerster said.
Just as noteworthy as Wisconsin's early goals was the defense holding Milwaukee scoreless. The Panthers were unable to get much of anything going, and Jentsch posted his first collegiate shutout while only having to make one save all night. Jentsch and the defense might have gotten a little lucky on one play, though.
After a Milwaukee player rifled a shot that struck the underside of the crossbar, the ball bounced to a fellow Panther, who had nothing but a wide-open net to shoot at. An apparent mishit, combined with the wind, sent the ball flying wide left and out of bounds.
Head coach John Trask thought the shutout would provide Jentsch, who has allowed eight goals over the past two matches, with a confidence boost.
""It's huge,"" Trask said. ""The other night was so unfortunate for Max. You see it in photos, you read about it, you see it on the bloopers on YouTube. That could have happened to any goalkeeper and he bounced back with confidence.""
And the defense as a whole?
""Tonight was a good, solid defensive performance,"" Trask said. ""I'm not into the 4-3 performances; this was my type of soccer game.""
The Badgers will look to ride the momentum from Wednesday night's win into the weekend, when they go on the road to play No. 25 Ohio State Sunday afternoon.