Men's Soccer: Spring Game Report at Wisconsin Cup
May 4, 2012
MILWAUKEE - The Panthers have six games scheduled for the spring season, which began on April 1. Assistant coach Ben Shepherd will again take time to report on how each match went.
Sunday saw us round out our spring schedule by taking part in the 'Wisconsin Cup' down at Valley Fields. We kicked off first at 9:30 a.m. against a Marquette side that is coming off of its best season to date, having won the Big East regular season crown last year.
The game started well for us and we really attacked well in the opening minutes. After good approach play, Kevin Ferron slipped a good pass through to Cody Banks who was through 1 on 1 with the Marquette keeper, but a good save prevented us from taking an early lead.
The miss was compounded moments later, as a coming together between Jamie Ashcroft and a Marquette forward in our penalty box resulted in a penalty, which was put away to give Marquette a 1-0 lead - although John Shakon came extremely close to pulling off an excellent save.
This goal really seemed to rock us as a team, and for the next 15 minutes Marquette dominated and we defended as a team very poorly. They scored a second from a set-piece and then a third from a good move, which meant within 20 minutes we found ourselves 3-0 down after probably having the best chance of the game at 0-0. From our standpoint, we allowed the penalty decision to affect our play which we need to learn from, but you also have to give Marquette credit as for that period of time they took advantage of our mistakes and made us pay!!
To give our guys credit though, once we were 3-0 down I thought we responded extremely well and finished the half much the stronger team, and got a goal back after good work by Patrick Donyen which resulted in Cody Banks tapping home at the back post to bring us back to 3-1 for his fifth goal in four games and that is how the score would end at the half.
The start of the second half saw us really take the game to Marquette and for the first 20 minutes we really pressed them in their own half and we had some great chances through Laurie Bell, Kyle Neumann among others. We really should have brought the game back to 3-2, which would have made things extremely interesting. Unfortunately we were unable to make our dominance pay and Marquette scored a good goal from another free-kick to make the score 4-1 and then right at the end they rounded off the scoring to make it 5-1 on the counter attack.
For us, the game was a lesson in that you can not afford to switch off for any period of time as the game was really lost in the first 15 minutes when we found ourselves 3-0 down. However; I also do feel the need to give our guys some credit in how they battled back and at one point in the second half we really showed what a good side this group of players has the potential to become and with a little better finishing, I think the game should and could of been far more interesting. Credit too though, to Marquette as they took their chances well and made us pay for our mistakes which is what the game is all about.
The second game saw us take on UW-Madison who had lost to Green Bay in their previous game 2-1. The first half was a little bit of a non-event, as you could see that both teams were a little sluggish and fatigued from the previous game and the tempo and speed of play was slightly slower - to say the least. Madison was probably the most threatening in the first half and took the lead from another penalty decision which went against us as we found ourselves 1-0 down at half-time.
The second half again saw us respond well, and we took the game to Madison and started to get the ball down and play our brand of soccer.
Kyle Neumann went close after a good move which saw the keeper pull off a good save and from the resulting corner Jamie Ashcroft went close with a header that went just over.
At the midpoint of the second half, some good intricate play between Jamie Bladen and Riley Weiner allowed us to get Zach Stevenson free down the left and he put in a great cross for Laurie Bell to arrive late from midfield to head home to tie the scores at 1-1. From our side of things, I think this was probably the best goal that we scored all Spring, as it was a really good build up of possession soccer with short one-touch passing, which is what we have emphasized all season so it was pleasing to see.
From here on we continued to create chances, although Madison also looked dangerous on the break and from set-pieces and the game seemed to step up a gear as it drew to a close.
Just as we were preparing to think about who we would select for penalties, an unforced error at the back gifted a Madison forward the opportunity to be through on goal, which he finished with ease, to win the game with the last kick of the game, which was disappointing after playing our way back after trailing at half.
Although it was disappointing to lose both games, especially to two local rivals, there were also positives to come from the games and these two results should not take away from how hard our players have worked this Spring and the positive steps that they have all taken which will stand them in good stead for this upcoming season.
The brand of soccer that we have played has been excellent and as a team we have taken big steps forward. Although we still have aspects of our game to work on, if we are going to achieve the success that we all desire I am proud of how they have handled themselves both on and off the field under difficult circumstances.
I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank all the support that the team has received this spring, as it really has helped and we look forward to seeing you all again in August when it starts again.
Have a great summer and we'll see you all at Engelmann soon!!!