No. 4 Indiana opens its conference schedule on Friday night when Wisconsin pays a visit to Bill Armstrong Stadium. IU is coming off the heels of a 1-1 draw with in-state foe Notre Dame, where the Hoosiers dominated the entirety of the game but only came away with one point.
After the game, redshirt junior midfielder A.J. Palazzolo said the team had already shifted its focus to Wisconsin. IU went undefeated in the Big Ten regular season last year without dropping a single point. The first step for the Hoosiers doing that again begins Friday night. Meet the Badgers in the latest “The Tale of the Tape.”
Wisconsin has typically been a grind-it-out kind of soccer team, one that will wear the other side out and capitalize on mistakes or offensive chances it creates. Through six games this season, it seems that Wisconsin is sticking true to what it knows.
However, the Badgers have struggled to find the back of the net when they’re given chances. Wisconsin has just four goals to its name so far, each one coming from a different player. Four times this season, it has been shut out, including three games that ended 1-0 in the opposition’s favor. Perhaps the numbers are a little misleading.
The talent is still there for Wisconsin, which returned its top two scorers from last season. Noah Melick led Wisconsin with six goals last season, but has only played in three matches so far, yet to record a single point. Its second leading scorer last season, Andrew Akindele, hasn’t recorded a goal and has just one assist to his name. Both players are sophomores and are working through different things early in the season, but are two names to remember when Wisconsin comes to Bloomington on Friday night.
Record is deceiving
Although Wisconsin’s 2-4-0 mark through six games is a little deceiving, it’s not something big enough to overlook how dangerous Wisconsin can be. Three of its four losses have come by one goal. Wisconsin lost 1-0 to both Portland and Butler, two teams that have had immense success over the past five seasons. It also lost 1-0 to Bowling Green, a team that played IU very tough in the preseason.
Wisconsin is never going to light up the scoreboard, but it makes the most of what possession it’s gifted. The Badgers have been in every game they’ve played so far this season, but has just been on the wrong side of the outcome. IU is a team that continues to struggle finishing offensive chances. Wisconsin isn’t going to give IU as many chances at Notre Dame did on Tuesday night and can make the Hoosiers pay on the break if it collects the loose ball. This Wisconsin team is always tough and conference play is a new challenge for a young team. IU can’t overlook the Badgers and will need more execution on Friday night.
History between the squads
There is no shortage of history between these two squads, especially in the past handful of years. For starters, IU head coach Todd Yeagley spent a season with the Badgers, before taking the head job at Indiana 10 seasons ago. Two years ago, Indiana got the best of Wisconsin in the regular season with a golden goal win in double overtime, but Wisconsin defeated Indiana in penalty kicks in the Big Ten Tournament final to hold the Hoosiers without a single trophy in 2017. IU got its revenge last season with a victory in Madison en route to the regular season conference title. The Hoosiers haven’t lost in regulation to Wisconsin since 2013 and hold the all-time advantage, 39-5-9.
The first step in repeating as Big Ten Champions begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. The conference schedule is a new test for a team that starts three freshmen and has played five overtime games so far. But Palazzolo said after Notre Dame that he expects “to go undefeated in conference play,” and that starts with the opener against Wisconsin.