Referees, Rau decisive in Wisconsin’s win

first_imgFinally. That’s the only word to describe the Wisconsin men’s soccer team’s first Big Ten victory of the season Saturday night, beating Michigan 2-1 at home in front of 446 fans at the McClimon Complex.One year removed from a surprising 3-0 start to the 2011 Big Ten campaign, Wisconsin (4-6-3, 1-2-0 Big Ten) struggled upon entering conference play this year. In their first two games of the Big Ten season, the Badgers were unable to score a goal, losing to Penn State 1-0 and No. 7 Indiana 2-0. Coming into the game, Michigan (4-6-1, 1-2-1) appeared the best opportunity yet for UW’s first win. Before Saturday night’s showdown, the Wolverines sat at  4-5-1 overall and had only one Big Ten win to their name.So when it came time for Saturday night’s game, head coach John Trask couldn’t stress to his players enough the importance of playing with intensity for the full 90 minutes.“We made that a focus before the game, competing for 90 minutes, every single second,” Trask said. “That has to be there. To be successful in college soccer, you have to compete, and hopefully some skills and some soccer plays develop to give you a chance to win.”Unlike in previous games, where Trask’s calls for more urgent play from the team seemed to fall on deaf ears, the Badgers played with a drive and intensity UW soccer fans haven’t had the chance to see out of the team yet this year. As a result, referee calls became a big influence on the outcome of the game.Early in the first half, after a slide by UW freshman midfielder Drew Conner took down a charging Michigan player into UW’s half, the referee called a foul. In a response that would become typical of players on both teams in the game, Conner immediately jumped up and got into a heated argument with the referee over the call resulting in a yellow card.“I came in, and it wasn’t necessarily a tackle, it was more of just a shot block,” Conner said. “It was right outside the box so I was upset that it was called, especially because I didn’t even think it was a foul.”This type of situation would become a common thread throughout the game, as the referees had to make several key decisions, or in some cases non-decisions, to determine the game.In another questionable call by the referee, junior midfielder Trevor Wheeler received a ball in Michigan’s penalty area only to be taken down by a Michigan player sliding in to kick the ball away from him. Sitting at a 1-1 tie in the 68th minute, a penalty kick decision could have given UW a chance to take the lead, but center referee Jorge Cuate decided to let play continue.Trask, who normally remains calm and sits on the team bench on the sidelines throughout the duration of the game, even jumped up out of his seat to argue with the referee about the call.“I had my little go [at the referee] there, I thought Wheeler got brought down in the box,” Trask said. “I think an important thing when a team is going through what we are going through, is that [the players] have got to see that I’m still passionate about it.”“Ultimately though, it is his call,” Trask added. “We have great referees in the Big Ten, we are very, very fortunate … we are by far the luckiest conference in the country.”Rau returns to starting lineupAfter making way for junior goalkeeper Max Jentsch to start in a 1-0 loss to UW-Milwaukee Wednesday, freshman goalkeeper Chase Rau was back in the starting 11 against Michigan Sunday.While externally this might have seemed linked to Wednesday’s loss, Trask made it clear that he has been happy with the progress both goalkeepers continue to make as Wisconsin progresses through its season.The start was also an important one personally for the Sparta, Mich., native, who faced one of his home state schools in the Wolverines.After a number of key saves throughout the game, including one long range effort by a Michigan player that Rau just managed to tip over the bar, his return to the lineup marked a confident showing by the entire UW defense.“I thought Chase came up big on a bunch of saves, he communicated all game, kept the team organized,” sophomore defender AJ Cochran said. “We knew this was a big game for him, and he came up huge for us.“Him and Max, they have been awesome all season … no matter who is out there they give us the confidence to play well, and hopefully we give them the confidence to play well.”Follow Nick on Twitterlast_img

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