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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Drew Conner

Surrounded by young teammates, junior midfielder Drew Conner finds himself in a leadership role this season.

Press conferences: Ups and downs of UW sports

Men’s soccer

Over the weekend, Wisconsin traveled to the East Coast to square off against two of the elite collegiate programs in the nation. On Friday, the Badgers fell to George Mason (3-0-0) by a score of 2-1 in Fairfax, Va. The Badgers then traveled to Washington D.C. where they fell 4-1 to No. 9 Georgetown (2-0-2) Sunday afternoon.

Wisconsin’s record now stands at 1-3-0. Coach John Trask sat down with the media Monday to discuss the weekend, pointing to the youth of the Badgers squad as a reason for the team’s early struggles.

“We’re a relatively young team. I believe we started five freshmen in both of the games this weekend,” Trask said. “We’re taking some lumps. We knew that.”

However, Trask remains more than optimistic about the team’s youth, making it clear that it is excellent for the program. The team has just two seniors on its roster, but Trask highlights the positives of this young roster rather than focusing on the lack of experience.

“This is by far the deepest and best recruiting class we’ve been able to get here at Wisconsin in my five years,” Trask said.

Trask did admit that it is a learning process. As with any young team, mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned and growth will occur.

“As much as we ramp it up in training, try to put a focus to it, it’s when Georgetown scores three goals in one half, or Notre Dame dominates you in areas of play, those are the hard lessons that have to be learned by any college team,” Trask said. “Some guys go up and down a little bit too much. Consistency is important in college athletics. That’s a challenge for young players.”

The Badgers open up Big Ten play with a nationally televised game this Friday at home against Big Ten newcomer, Rutgers (2-2-0).

“It sets up for a great way to begin the season. I know after a tough loss [Sunday] afternoon to Georgetown, it’s something the guys can refocus their energy on. It’s the beginning of the Big Ten season,” said Trask.

Women’s volleyball

With the Badgers yet to lose a match, head coach Kelly Sheffield talked about carrying momentum from last year’s breakout season while compiling a record of 5-0 to begin 2014. After reaching the national championship game last year, Wisconsin enters this fall’s campaign as a top contender. Teams around the nation have taken note.

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“People are promoting our match. There’s a different hype, you can tell that,” Sheffield said. “There’s enthusiasm on the road.”

The Badgers will host the HotelRED invitational beginning this Friday. At the match against Miami, the national runner-up banner will be raised, but Coach Sheffield was quick to dismiss the ceremony.

“We are excited about sharing that with the fans because we haven’t been able to do that,” Sheffield said. “You drop that, you hope that they get excited for it, then you get back to the business of competing against a really good Miami team.”

While last year’s season was a great success, Sheffield has made it clear that it is now in the past and that the 2014 team is focused on the current campaign. When asked what would come to mind when the banner was raised, Sheffield brushed off any feeling of nostalgia.

“I’m going to be trying to figure out how we’re going to get our middles going, are we going to communicate, serve tough enough,” he said. “Those will probably be the emotions that will be running and hoping it doesn’t take too long because we just got done warming up.”

As for his team’s current success, Sheffield pointed to the improvement of star sophomore setter Lauren Carlini and senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman. Coach Sheffield also emphasized junior Taylor Morey’s stellar defensive play and freshman Kelli Bates’ ability to shine on the big stage.

In addition to Miami, the Badgers will take on Ball State and Missouri State this weekend as part of the invitational.

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