Badgers welcome in new foe for Big Ten home opener

first_imgAfter a rough weekend in Washington D.C., the Wisconsin men’s soccer team will have a chance to start out the conference season on the right foot Friday.Following a pair of losses against George Mason and Georgetown, the Badgers begin their Big Ten slate with a nationally televised Big Ten home opener against one of the conference’s newest members, Rutgers.While UW (1-3-0) had their struggles as a team over the weekend, there were some bright spots. One of those was freshman forward Mark Segbers, who already scored his third goal of the season, coming against George Mason last Friday.Despite Segbers being a true freshman, he has wasted no time gelling with the team and becoming a focal point of the Badgers’ offensive attack. He will play a big role in the team’s rebound from their 1-3 start to the season, starting with Rutgers on Friday.“[Segbers] is special,” Wisconsin head coach John Trask said. “He’s got great physical abilities and has also shown to be very good in front of the goal. He doesn’t just have three goals, but he also created a penalty kick against Georgetown. Mark is an exceptional talent and we are still fitting him into where we will play him within the team, but he’s going to have one heck of a career here.”Through the first four matches of the season, Segbers leads the team in goals (3) and shots on goal (5), despite only starting one game.On the other side of the field, the Scarlet Knights (2-2-0) happen to have a fantastic freshman of their own. Freshman forward Jason Wright, who has played for various Jamaican national teams, has been off to a hot start that rivals the performance of Segbers. Through the team’s first four games, Wright has been responsible for all four of the team’s goals, scoring three of them and assisting on the other.Trask and the rest of the Badgers understand how gifted the young Rutgers’ Jamaican is, but they’re also up for the challenge.“We’ve been just starting to watch some tape on [Wright] and he is obviously very gifted,” Trask said. “When you score four goals for the U-17 and U-20 Jamaican national team, you’ve got gifts. I’m sure he is going to be a handful, but I know our defenders are looking forward to playing against the best. We always do. It should be a great matchup.”This will be the first Big Ten match for Rutgers after switching over from the Big East this summer. Rutgers, who is on a two-game losing skid of their own, is as unfamiliar an opponent as ever for this Wisconsin team. In fact, junior midfielder Drew Conner had not even seen them play until this week.Nevertheless, this Badger team, most notably the backline led by senior defender David Caban, will be ready for whatever Rutgers brings offensively.“Offensively, they’re pretty dynamic,” Caban said. “It’s going to be their first Big Ten game as a school overall, so that’ll be pretty tough. We have to come out organized, as they are definitely going to come out excited. Everyone wants to win their first Big Ten game because you always want to start off on the front foot, rather than chasing.”Despite the team’s confidence going into Friday’s match, UW does have some question marks of their own to deal with before they take the pitch against the Scarlet Knights.At halftime of Sunday’s match against national powerhouse Georgetown, Trask and his staff made the executive decision to switch out starting freshmen goalkeeper Adrian Remeniuk with redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Casey Beyers after Remeniuk gave up three first half goals. Beyers only gave up a single goal to the Hoyas in the second half of the match.As of now, Trask and his staff have not made a decision as to who will start Friday’s match, despite the fact that Remeniuk has started each of Wisconsin’s first four regular season games this year. Trask said they will take the week’s remaining few practices to evaluate and it will ultimately be a “game day decision.”Despite the unknown of who will be in goal come Friday, Caban doesn’t believe it will matter in the end. He and the other members of the backline will be comfortable no matter who is in front of the net.“I don’t think the transition [between goalkeepers] is that difficult because the goalies are trained very well by coach Ian [Sarachan] so it’s all pretty consistent,” Caban said. “Obviously each goalie has their own way of doing things; they communicate differently, they play balls differently. But all in all, we are pretty well-adjusted to our keepers so it really isn’t that difficult to adjust to.”With Friday’s game scheduled to be shown on the Big Ten Network, playing on the national stage can add loads of pressure to a team, especially a young group like Wisconsin’s.Drew Conner, who is also one of the team’s three captains, will make sure that he and the young guys on the team will be focused to play how they always do once they’re under the lights. He doesn’t believe the team will have a problem treating it like any other game.“I’ve played in four or five Big Ten Network games now, so it gets to the point where you kind of forget that the cameras are on and you just play your game,” Conner said. “If you focus too much on that, you either start trying to do too much or try and hide. I’m going to give some of the younger guys advice to just stay cool, forget about the cameras, and just focus on playing good defense and doing what comes natural offensively.”The Badgers will take on the Scarlet Knights at McClimon Soccer Complex Friday at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.last_img

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