Men’s soccer team preps for Thunder

first_imgThe Wisconsin men’s soccer team will look for revenge this Sunday when they line up against the United Soccer League (USL) First Division Minnesota Thunder squad for the second time in the Badgers’ 2005 spring season. The match will take place on neutral ground in LaCrosse, WI at 1p.m., marking each team’s first ever trip to the western Wisconsin city.In their spring season opener earlier this year, the Badgers suffered a 1-0 loss to the Thunder during a four-team round robin at the McClain indoor complex. Though head coach Jeff Rohrman would have preferred a different outcome, he managed to come away from the result with a targeted aspect to improve upon.“I think we have to finish our chances,” Rohrman said. “I thought in [the last] game [the Thunder] took the chance that they had very well, and I thought we created enough to come away with a goal or two, but just didn’t finish. Now, trying to replace Nick (Van Sicklen) and Jed (Hohlbein) is certainly going to be a big priority for us.”The departure of forwards Van Sicklen and Hohlbein at the close of the 2004 fall season has left the team with a lack of firepower in front of the net. For the team’s future, Rohrman will have to depend on his younger players to fill the roles up front and provide scoring opportunities.In addition to finishing their chances in front of goal, Rohrman also hopes the team’s defensive play will continue to make positive strides.“I think we had one shutout last year, so we’re trying to improve a little bit on the defensive side,” Rohrman said. “We’re a team with a core of guys being juniors — especially in the back — so I think we have to take a step forward and really concentrate on not giving up goals. Having lost nine games by one goal last fall, we [have] to turn the table a little bit in that area.”Because of the early timing of the last match, the Badgers will face a more complete and polished Thunder squad this time around with the USL season beginning just around the corner on April 29.“The team that we will be playing on Sunday will have a different look to it,” Rohrman said. “Given where [the Thunder] were in their preseason last time, it was very early for them, and they really had not had an opportunity to put together what they would consider to be their first team yet for their season … I think it will be a much more improved team on their side, so the challenge will be much greater for us.”Despite the different levels of play — professional vs. NCAA Division 1 — the Badgers are not inexperienced with facing opponents from the USL, nor have they been deterred by the intense competition.“In the past we’ve played the Thunder, we’ve also played the Milwaukee Rampage,” Rohrman said. “Obviously with the proximity of the Milwaukee-based professional team it’s somebody we’re regularly going to play. Those two, in particular, are teams we know pretty well and have played in the past and have done quite well against as well.”The trip to LaCrosse will also serve as a homecoming for sophomore goalkeeper Mike Hood. A redshirted freshman in 2003, Hood is now vying for the starting keeper position with fellow sophomore Jake Settle following the exit of 2004 tri-captain Eric Hanson.“Mike [Hood] will get an opportunity to play in the game,” Rohrman said. “Certainly for the folks who come out to see us, I think they will be excited to see Mike and see how he has come along. He’s had a pretty good spring so he’s certainly earned the minutes, and I think it will be nice for him to get in front of his home crowd and play a team like the Thunder.”Competing with the Thunder will be no easy task for the Badgers, but Rohrman believes the team has the ability to play with, and potentially defeat the club.“I think if we come out with the same intensity, same defensive presence, and just concentrate on the final third we’ll do fine,” Rohrman said. “Because we’re a team — as far as we’ve seen in the last few weeks — that is going to create some good chances, and now we just have to do our part putting those away.”last_img

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