The 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.”
Matt Karatsu | Daily TrojanOn Wednesday, USC finished up a short week of practice in preparation for Friday’s game against No. 16 Washington State. The team worked on red-zone efficiency and readied for potentially inclement weather while continuing to deal with a slew of recent injuries.Bracing for harsh weatherThis Friday, USC could see a potentially rainy, windy evening in Pullman, Wash. In order to prepare for that prospect, the team practiced with wet footballs on Wednesday.“It looks like we may get some rain there in the second half,” head coach Clay Helton said. “We worked [in] some precipitation, which will be the first time for us this season.”Helton insisted that his team will be able to handle the harsh conditions, despite the lack of experience dealing with rain in sunny Southern California.“We’ve been fortunate,” Helton said. “Stat of the day is: Since 1923, we’ve only had 16 rain games in the Coliseum, but [I’ve] been here for two of them, in 2010 and 2016. At the end of the day, professionals don’t make excuses; they’re supposed to be the answers.”Injury UpdateAs USC grinds through 12 straight games without the reprieve of a bye week, the pileup of injuries always seemed inevitable. A third of the way into the season, after facing four challenging opponents, the accumulation of wear and tear has already become a major factor. The Trojans spent most of their short week trying to get key players healthy and back on the field.“I don’t think anybody is 100 percent right now after these first four games,” Helton said. “I think we all have bumps and bruises right now at all positions.”Helton offered several injury updates on the offensive side of the ball. Junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett and freshman receiver/return specialist Velus Jones both came back to practice on Wednesday after dealing with minor injuries, but their fellow pass-catcher redshirt senior Steven Mitchell Jr. remained out with a groin injury suffered against Texas. Mitchell Jr. is the team’s second leading receiver with 223 yards and two touchdowns.“I watched him run today and he is getting closer,” Helton said. “If it’s not Saturday, it will be next week.”Helton also offered new information about redshirt sophomore tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, as he’s been out with a hip injury since the season opener against Western Michigan. Tight end is a particularly thin position for the Trojans without Imatorbhebhe and now with the departure of freshman Cary Angeline.“We’re all hoping that he plays this year,” Helton said. “We’re hoping to forecast for the Notre Dame game week. He’s getting closer but this is an investment that we made. We wanted to get him back 100 percent, and until he’s that way, I’m not going to put him out there.”Junior Tyler Petite is now by far the most experienced tight end on the depth chart. He turned in his best performance last week against Cal with four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.Improving red-zone efficiency Currently, the Trojans’ lack of success in the red zone has been one of the team’s biggest crutches. Over the first four games, the team is 73rd in red-zone efficiency, tied with Ball State and Idaho. During this week of practice, USC worked on that specific area of the game.“The last two weeks, we haven’t been great [in short yardage offense],” Helton said. “Everyone can see that. We worked hard in the red zone today and at finishing drives, because third-down and red-zone efficiency is going to be the key in this game. You’re not going to be able to kick field goals while they’re scoring touchdowns.”
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A Walmart in El Paso plans to reopen with a permanent memorial for the 22 people gunned down there earlier this month.Police and the FBI finished processing the crime scene last week and gave control back to Walmart.Crews will completely renovate the store before reopening in a few months while nearly all 400 Walmart employees have been temporarily reassigned.During construction, armed guards will remain on site.Additionally, a fence has been put up for trespassers.“Nothing will erase the pain of Aug. 3, and we’re hopeful that reopening the store will be another testament to the strength and resiliency that has characterized the El Paso community in the wake of this tragedy,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement.The project is expected to take three to four months.