In the midst of a five-game winless streak, the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team will try to get back on track Saturday when it hosts Big Ten foe Michigan.A non-conference loss to No. 12-ranked Marquette on the road Wednesday was the final of three road games, and the Badgers (1-6-1 overall, 0-2-0 Big Ten) now return home for two straight games.Wisconsin will look for another fast start after coming out strong with the first four shots in Wednesday’s game at Marquette.Michigan (1-5-2; 0-1-2) is in a similar situation as the Badgers, since it has already played several ranked opponents, including No. 12 Maryland and No. 7 Penn State, giving the Wolverines some early season tests. In the game against Maryland, Michigan salvaged a draw but fell at home against Penn State.On the offensive end, Wisconsin has been held off the board in their past two road contests and have averaged just 1.25 goals per game this season.Michigan, meanwhile, has given up an average of one goal per game on the season, so the Badgers will have their work cut out for them when trying to attack the Wolverines’ defense.“As many goals as we’ve scored, we’re not as clinical around the goal as we will be in the future,” Wisconsin head coach John Trask said after their last home game.The loss of 14 players, including Tomislav Zadro who earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, has been the main cause of the decreased opportunities on goal. Wisconsin averaged 13.6 shots per game a season ago, but that output has decreased by five shots through the first eight games this year.As the season wears on and the players get more comfortable in the system, Wisconsin will look to be a more complete team on both the offensive and defensive ends. There has yet to be a game where both the offense and defense have completely worked in unison, which has provided a good deal of the stress during the slow start.Michigan has eight returning starters from last season, compared to Wisconsin’s normal starting lineup that features four freshmen.The Badgers and the Wolverines seem to be on similar paths for the season, which makes their meeting Saturday all the more interesting.Wisconsin began the season with freshman Adrian Remeniuk at goalkeeper, but recently switched to redshirt sophomore Casey Beyers. Beyers has the past four starts at goalkeeper with an 0-3-1 record, but has recorded many saves to keep the Badgers in the game.Michigan rotated their goalkeepers over the course of the season as well, going between senior Adam Grinwis who has a 0.69 goals-against average and freshman Evan Louro who has shown potential.Getting opportunities will be difficult for the Badgers with Michigan’s strong defensive front, but getting it by either of Michigan’s goalkeepers will be an even larger task.This game will most likely come down to Wisconsin’s defensive play. In their last home game, a draw with St. John’s, the Badgers played their best defensive game of the season to date.UW will hope to replicate that effort in front of the home crowd and use their defense to generate more counter-attacking opportunities.It will be a tough battle for the Badgers’ offense to compete against a strong defense, and an equally challenging task for the Badgers defense to keep Michigan off the board.The game between Wisconsin and Michigan will be at the McClimon Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Badgers with opportunity to end five-game winless streak