#34 Wisconsin Men's Soccer 2014 Preview

Wisconsin Badgers

Overall Rank: #34
#6 Big Ten
#34 Wisconsin Men's Soccer 2014 Preview
Wisconsin Team Page


Wisconsin won the National Championship in 1995. The next season they missed the NCAA Tournament. And then they missed it the next year. And the year after that. That trend went on for 17 seasons, until the 2013 team put a stop to it. Following a pair of losses to close out the month of September, the Badgers won eight of their next ten matches to sit at 14-3-2 entering the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers opened the conference tournament with a 2-1 loss to Northwestern, but it didn’t matter, as Wisconsin received an at-large berth based on their body of work, their first in nearly two decades. Wisconsin beat Milwaukee 1-0 at home in the first round, completing a perfect 10-0 home record, before falling to eventual national champion Notre Dame 4-0 in the second round. This year’s team will need to cope with the loss of 13 seniors and AJ Cochran, an All-American defender who left school a year early to sign a Generation Adidas contract with the Houston Dynamo.

2013 Record: 14-5-2, 4-2
2013 Postseason: NCAA Tournament
Coach: John Trask

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Jacob Brindle, Senior, F, 8
Assists: Drew Conner, Junior, M, 7
Shots: Nick Jones, Sophomore, F, 30
Saves: Casey Beyers, Sophomore, GK, 33

Other Key Returnees: D David Caban, D Carl Schneider, M Brian Hail, M Anders Kristensen

Key Losses: D AJ Cochran, M Tomislav Zadro, M Nick Janus, F Chris Prince, D Blake Succa, F Tony Ramadani, D/M Paul Yonga

Wisconsin was one of the best teams in the country offensively last season. The Badgers ranked 22nd in the country in scoring offense, 1.86, 16th in goals scored, 39, 14th in points, 117 and 13th in assists, 39. Six of the top nine scorers from that team are gone, but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. Playmaking midfielder Drew Conner returns to lead this year’s team. Conner was second on the team in assists last season, with seven. He came up big in key situations, assisting on the game tying and game winning goals in a thrilling 4-3 comeback win over Indiana, and scoring the game winner, his lone goal of the season, in a 3-2 win over Western Michigan. The Second Team All-Big Ten performer is the lone attacking starter back, but there is plenty of talent around him. Senior Jacob Brindle is back for his final season and looks set to breakout. Brindle played in 20 games in 2013, totaling just 579 minutes, but managed to finish the season as the second leading scorer, tallying eight goals. He should be a fixture in the starting lineup this season, as should junior Anders Kristensen and sophomores Nick Jones and Brian Hail. Kristensen appeared in 11 games, making six starts last season, scoring one goal and picking up three assists. Jones and Hail both had solid rookie seasons and both earned spots on the Big Ten All-Freshman team. Jones saw action in 16 games, playing 555 minutes, and managed to notch a pair of goals and three assists, while Hail saw action in 20 games, seven starts, scoring one goal. All three have valuable experience, which should give them the upper hand when it comes to the starting spots. Wisconsin is hoping they can increase their production in a bigger role and add support to the Conner-Brindle duo.

There are a lot of question marks on this Badgers team. Wisconsin faces the difficult task of replacing 14 players off last season’s team, including two players who played in every game as the heart of the backline. David Caban, who was fourth on the team in minutes played, 1,616, last season, while Carl Schneider played in 19 games, totaling 1,343 minutes. Both players fit the mold of an outside back, leaving a huge hole in the center of defense created by the departure of Cochran. Sophomore goalkeeper Casey Beyers is back after starting 11 of the 14 games he played in as a freshman, posting a 1.37 goals against average, but Wisconsin will need to find some center backs to play in front of him. Those players will likely come from the highly touted freshmen class, which College Soccer News pegged as the 11th best in the nation. Rahim Omar and Edna O’Neill, the younger brother of Colorado Rapids defender Shane O’Neill, are two physical players who could see immediate time at the heart of the Badger defense. Joining them will be the crown jewel of the class, Mark Segbers. The US U-18 National team forward should see plenty of time as a freshman and could help replace Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Tomislav Zadro and leading scorer Nick Janus. Other newcomers who could see quality time are midfielder Mike Catalano and forwards Nikola Atlija and Tom Barlow.

Final Projection:
Losing 14 players is tough, but the addition of a top notch recruiting class will help that. What the Badgers need is for the newcomers to mesh well with the returning players. This will be extremely important on the offensive end. Wisconsin brings back midfielders Conner and Brindle, who both had success last season, along with Big Ten All-Freshman Team members Jones and Hail, but how do the new players fit in with these returnees? Coach Trask has to figure out how to get the likes of Segbers, Barlow, Atlija and Catalano into the game, while also getting the most out of guys like Jones, Hail and Brindle, who were bench players last season, but are looking at starting spots. Defensively, it seems like a perfect match. Wisconsin returns players who can play outside back and brings in players who are center backs. If they can come together as a unit, Wisconsin is in good shape. Whether this team comes together well or not is a big question, but the talent and potential is there and it should be enough for Wisconsin to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 1.87 (22nd in nation, 1st in conference)
Goals-Against Average: 1.26 (105, 6)
Shutout Percentage: 0.33 (64, 5)
Save Percentage:  0.658 (185, 7)

Madness 2015 MLS Draft Rankings:
#37 Jacob Brindle

Madness 2014 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#75 Mark Segbers
#123 Rahim Omar
#136 Michael Catalano


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