The Badgers (3-1-0 Big Ten, 5-2-1 overall) prevailed 1-0 over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-8-1, 0-4-1) in prime-time at McClimon Sports Complex on a chilly Saturday night.
With the win, the Badgers are now an impressive 4-0-0 at home. The man of the match was sophomore captain Sam Brotherton, who tallied his first career goal in the 35th minute.
“It's been a really long time coming, so to finally get a goal in the net today was really satisfying,” said Brotherton.
The defender praised junior midfielder Mike Catalano, who set him up after carving up the Rutgers defense from inside the box.
“I wasn't sure if Mike [Catalano] would see me, but thankfully he slipped a great ball ... great assist by Mike,” said Brotherton.
The New Zealand defender has been a key anchor in the Wisconsin defense that now boasts three shout-outs on the season—two of which came this week alone, as St. Louis was also held scoreless Tuesday night. As close as the game was, the teams jockeyed for position all night at McClimon.
Freshman midfielder Noah Leibold was undercut on a ball up for grabs in the air, which led him to grab for his ankle within the first five minutes of play. He was subbed out minutes later and was evaluated by staff before returning with a taped ankle.
Sophomore defenseman Elan Koenig was scolded by lead referee Jorge Cuate, who yelled “no more” multiple times after Koenig tripped up Rutgers forward Dante Perez, who stayed down momentarily before running it off. Scarlet Knights’ coach Dan Donigan was visibly upset and needed clarification on the lack of card present in the foul call.
The physical battle spilled over into the second half, as Rutgers looked to break through the Badgers’ coverage. Tyler Morris drew a yellow card for the Scarlet Knights and so did Wisconsin’s Koenig later in the half. The Badgers never gave into the Knights’ attacks, forming a wall around redshirt junior goalkeeper Philipp Schilling.
“That's not by chance,” Schilling said when asked about the lack of shots on goal he faced all night. “If they make it that easy ... that's just great. I’d rather not save any and win all the games.” The keeper was vocal all night, giving out calls to his defenders.
“I'm the oldest on the team, so, you have kind of a leading role,” Schilling said.
In the closing minute, Rutgers threatened deep in the Wisconsin box, but Schilling made a heady play to end any chance of a Rutgers last-second equalizer.
“It's always a bit hectic at the end when you're leading by one goal,” Schilling said.
While the defense did its part, the Badgers left scoring opportunities on the table Saturday night, leading to the frenzied final minute attacks that Schilling noted. Numerous well played balls downfield ended in errant passes or offsides, which the Badgers were guilty of five times.
Look for coach John Trask’s team to practice getting better position to avoid costly offsides, and improving on set pieces and passing to capitalize when the Badgers flood the box.
Wisconsin hits the road for two games this week, Wednesday night against in-state rival Marquette (3-3-3), and a Sunday evening matinee against No. 25 Michigan State (6-2-0, 2-1-0 conference).
Wisconsin will seek to improve its disappointing 1-2-1 record on the road and carry momentum from the weekend to build a win streak.