UWM Looks To Extend Winning Ways At Engelmann
Oct. 9, 2006
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's soccer team will play its final non-conference game of the regular season Friday before returning to league play Sunday. The Panthers, who are in the middle of a five-game homestand, host Big Ten foe Michigan under the lights at 7 p.m. Friday and then Cleveland State Sunday at 11 a.m.
The all-time series against Michigan started just a year ago, when the Wolverines rallied with a late goal before winning 2-1 in the second overtime in Ann Arbor.
The game on Sunday will be the first of a men's/women's doubleheader, as the UWM women will play Butler in the afternoon. Milwaukee has had the upper-hand in the series with the Vikings of late and holds a 21-12-2 edge all-time. The Panthers have won the past 16 contests, last losing to CSU in 1989. They have outscored them, 61-10, in that stretch, an average victory of 3.8-to-0.6.
Follow along with the live statistics all weekend long via Gametracker on www.uwmpanthers if you can't make the contests.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
MICHIGAN: The Wolverines are off until the game with the Panthers on Friday and carry in a record of 5-6-3 overall, including 0-2-3 in the last five. Their most recent outing was a 1-1 draw with Michigan State Oct. 8 and continued a trend: six of their last eight games have gone to OT. The team's last win was a 3-0 decison over Oakland Sept. 20. Steve Burns has been the only coach in the team's history and has recorded a 60-49-9 record going into his seventh season this year.
Perica Marosevic paces the team in goals with five and in points with 12. Michael Holody (3G/1A) and Mauro Fuzetti (2G/3A) are tied for second with seven points each. Patrick Sperry has seen the large majority of time in goal, starting 13 of 14 games. He carries a 1.29 GAA and .732 save percentage.
CLEVELAND STATE: The Vikings slipped to 4-8-1 overall and 1-3-0 in the league after dropping two matches last week, but still a marked improvement over last year's 0-17-1 ledger.
Bryan Henson scored the lone CSU goal of the week at Rutgers Oct. 3, his third of the season. Those three have come on only 11 shots. Andrew Gutting shares the league lead with six assists, tying him for the top spot on the Viking charts with eight points. Senior David Stewart also has eight, coming off his four goals. CSU has allowed only six goals in four league matches this season, with Kasey Gray anchoring the Viking defense. Gray has a 1.49 goals-against mark in all matches this season for first-year head coach Ali Kazemaini.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
The Panthers tasted a little bit of everything last week, going 1-1-1 in three games. The loss was yet another tough one, as UWM fell to then-#12 UIC by a 1-0 score on the road. The win was an enjoyable one for both sides of the ball, as four different players scored goals to back the 13th career shutout of Grant Fernstrum in a 4-0 win over Wright State. The tie came Sunday, as Milwaukee went from down, 1-0, to up 2-1 in the second half, but settled for a 2-2 draw.
Senior Craig Mallace added two assists against Butler Sunday to give him a team-best five on the season. If he continues to lead the team in that category, he will join some select company: only three other players in the history of the program have led the Panthers in assists for two-consecutive seasons.
The first to pull off the feat was Craig Webb in 1978 and 1979. Next up was Sasha Cirovski in 1981 and 1982. There was then almost a 20-year gap before it happened again, as Kyle Lance was the third to do it in the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Mallace led the team and league in assists last year with 10.
HE'S A BRICK WALL
Despite taking the loss in the 1-0 decision to then-#12 UIC Oct. 3, sophomore Grant Fernstrum played brilliantly in goal. He made six saves, many of them diving stops to prevent sure scores. He also stopped a penalty kick in the 67th minute - the second time in his young career he has pulled that off.
His first came against Wisconsin in early October of last season. That stop marked the first UWM stop of a PK in 10 tries, dating back to the 2002 season. That year, goalie Brad Swenby stopped a penalty kick in a victory on the road at Detroit.
PRODUCTION IS THE KEY
Sophomore Colin Baker has made the most of his time on the field in 2006. The reserve forward has played in 13 games this season and been on the field for 423 minutes - an average of just over 32 minutes per contest. In that time, he has turned 12 shots into a team-high four goals and nine points, with a .333 shot percentage and a .500 SOG percentage.
OVERTIME JINX CONTINUES
In settling for a 2-2 draw with Butler Oct. 8, the Panthers saw a streak get extended once again that they would like to see end: the team is now 0-6-7 in its past 13 overtime matches. They were 0-3-5 in 2005 and lost in the final of the 2004 season (2-1 at UCSB in the NCAA Tournament). The Panthers last OT win came on Oct. 31, 2004, 1-0, over Cleveland State.
One look at the Panthers schedule for 2006 and one knew it was going to be a formidable task. UWM took on its fourth opponent of the year that has spent time in the Top 10 nationally this season on Oct. 3, falling to then-No. 12 UIC, 1-0. The Flames were just one week removed from being ranked in the Top 10 - as high as No. 7 - the week before. Creighton was ranked No. 8 in the preseason, while SMU, which knocked the Panthers off, 1-0, has risen from No. 2 at the time to remain No. 1 again in the polls this week. The combined record of the eight teams that have defeated UWM this season stands at an impressive tally of 60-29-11, a .655 winning percentage.
SECOND CUP GAME OF 2006
The game with Northern Illinois Oct. 1 was the 33rd showdown between the regional foes and former Midwestern Collegiate Conference rivals. With the loss, UWM fell to 18-12-3 all-time, losing possession of the cup for the first time since 2000. In Milwaukee's first cup game of the season, the team came storming back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Marquette, 3-2, to keep the Milwaukee Cup and improve to 25-7-2 all-time against the Golden Eagles.
Last up for 2006 will be the battle with UW-Green Bay Oct. 18 for the Chancellor's Cup. The Panthers lead that series 20-11-3.
BUILD IT, AND THEY WILL COME
The first official night game in the history of Engelmann Field was an amazing success Sept. 13 The standing-room-only crowd of 3,256 smashed the old record by over 1,000 fans. It was hoped that the previous mark - 2,250 against Evansville in 1990 - was going to be broken, but no one saw this coming. The fans were treated to a great game as well, witnessing the Panthers overcome a 2-0 deficit with three second-half goals.
JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN
When Marquette took a 2-0 lead over UWM in its Sept, 13 game, it marked just the fourth time since the start of the 2001 season that the Panthers trailed by two goals (or more) in a game. They took care of business, though, storming back for the win - the first time the team overcame such a deficit since Nov. 3, 2001.On that day, they trailed UIC, 2-0, before winning, 3-2. The only other times that Milwaukee trailed by two goals? Against Tulsa in 2006 (L, 3-0) and 2004 (L, 4-1), versus Notre Dame (L, 4-1) in the 2003 NCAA Tournament and against Akron (L, 3-1) in 2001. The team was never behind by two scores at all during the 2005 or 2002 seasons.
HORIZON LEAGUE SUCCESS
UWM has won the Horizon League regular season title in four of the past five seasons, posting a win-loss record of 30-3-2 in that span. They also established a new league mark with a 25-game unbeaten streak that came to a close in the 2004 season.
The Panthers became the first-ever Horizon League school to win four-straight soccer titles in 2004 as well, breaking Evansville's old standard of three consecutive (1989-91).
When it comes to home-field advantage, the Panthers rank right up there with the best in the country. Since the start of the 2001 season, UWM has turned Engelmann Field into a place visiting teams do not want to see on their schedule. They have gone 45-6-2 on their home pitch in that time, including a 13-1 mark in postseason play and a perfect 2-0 mark in NCAA Tournament action.
That seems to especially hold true so far in 2006. The team is 4-1-1 at Engelmann, outscoring opponents 16-5. On the road or at neutral sites, they are 0-7-1
A look at the current statistics of the team shows impressive offensive balance. Twelve different players have scored goals in 2006, with sophomore Colin Baker leading the way with four and senior Steve Sperl and junior Martin Castro right behind him with three. Additionally, 15 different Panthers have recorded points. For comparison, the Panthers also had 12 different players record goals by the end of the season last year.
WINNING ON PAPER
The 4-8-2 record has been frustrating for anyone associated with the Panthers, but it is hard to pinpoint any problem on the stat sheet. To date, the team is outscoring its opponents, 20-18, outshooting its opponents by a wide margin of 202-168, and also holds the 59-to-46 corner kick edge.
THE DRIVE FOR 400
If trends continue, the Panthers should hit a significant milestone in their history this season: all-time program victory No. 400. UWM enters play in 2006 with an all-time mark of 389-213-51, a .635 winning percentage. The Panthers have averaged 15.5 wins since 2000, so that milestone should be in reach during the course of the 2006 campaign.
MILESTONE PROGRAM WINS:
2006 EXHIBITION RECAP
The Panthers finished 2-0 in their preseason exhibition games, defeating Bradley Aug. 14 and Valparaiso Aug. 20 by identical 1-0 scores. Senior Steve Sperl accounted for the goals in both games, with classmate Dale Weiler assisting on the Bradley goal and junior Andre Francois setting up the Valpo goal. The defense did the rest, shutting out both opponents over the two games. Sophomore goalkeeper Grant Fernstrum was up to the task each time his name was called, making 10 saves to earn the pair of shutout victories.
IRON MAN STREAK ENDS
When junior captain Steve Bode was held out of the Sept. 3 game against Lipscomb as a precaution from an injury, it brought a long streak to an end. Bode, a mainstay of the defense, had started every game of his Milwaukee career to that point, a stretch that reached 49-consecutive games before coming to a close in game 50.
Bode started all 23 games of his freshman season in 2003, and then all 23 of his sophomore year in 2005. He missed the 2004 campaign when he was redshirted due to an injury. The 23 games started shares the school record for most games started in one season.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 2005 campaign marked the fourth-straight season that the Panther defense has been stingy, allowing less than a goal per game on average. Also, for the fifth-straight season, UWM topped the league in goals against average as a team, with Grant Fernstrum the fourth different goalkeeper to help pull it off.
For the fifth time in school history, and third time in four years, Milwaukee finished the 2005 season ranked in the national polls. In 2005, UWM finished ranked No. 24 in the NSCAA/adidas poll and No. 3 in the Great Lakes Region Poll. The highest season-ending ranking in program history came in 2002, when the Panthers were No. 13 at season's end in the NSCAA poll with their 19-2-1 record.
TOPS IN THE NATION
Goalkeeper Grant Fernstrum took over the starting goalkeeper job a month into the 2005 season and became one of the dominating forces on defense for Milwaukee.
Individually, his goals against average of 0.466 on the season established a new school record and led the nation, topping second-place finisher Tally Hall of San Diego State University by .025 (0.491). He became the first-ever Horizon League soccer player to win a national statistical championship since the NCAA began compiling leaders. His save percentage of .889 would also have tied SDSU's Hall for first in the nation, but he did not play in enough games to qualify.
SENIOR CLASS READY TO REPEAT
The 2005 senior class matched the 2004 seniors as the second class to advance to the NCAA Tournament in all four seasons wearing a Panther uniform. The two seniors from 2005, Kyle Zenoni and Neil Dombrowski, took that a step further when they became the first to make it past the opening round each season as well. This year, Craig Mallace, Billy Meier, Eric Mickschl, Steve Sperl and Dale Weiler will look to be the next in line to add their names to the same prestigious list. The group has posted a 3-2-1 record in the six tournament games.
EXPERIENCE ALL OVER
The Panthers lost just two seniors from the 2005 squad and return nine starters and 17 letterwinners. Throw in the fact that they return six of their top seven scorers and it's not a bad situation to be in when you are gunning for a sixth-straight NCAA Tournament. Steve Bode started all 23 games last year, while Zeke Dombrowski (22 starts), Billy Meier (21), Tenzin Rampa (20), Craig Mallace (17), Steve Sperl (16), Grant Fernstrum (16), Dale Weiler (12), Travis Phillips (11), Chris Lins (10), Troy Spielmann (9) and Ken Ogorzalek (8) all started eight or more games.
FERNSTUM PULLS ANOTHER RARITY
Last season, sophomore goalkeeper Grant Fernstrum became the first UWM keeper to stop a penalty kick in 10 chances, dating back to the 2002 season. On Sept. 1 versus IPFW, he pulled off another statistical rarity when his long goal kick set up junior Dan Horst for the final goal of the game. That assist was the first by a UWM goalkeeper since the 2001 season. Current assistant coach Chris Dadaian assisted Ryan Seymour on a goal in a win against Saint Mary's in the 2001 Panther Invitational. His long punt set up Seymour for a one-on-one opportunity in the game played Sept. 8, 2001.
ABOUT THAT DEFENSE
The Panthers tied a school record with 12 shutouts last season, including a school-record 10 by Fernstrum. The team goals against average of 0.74 not only approached the program record of 0.67 set in 2002, but also ranked 18th in the country.
Other national rankings held by the defense included fifth in save percentage (.845) and 13th in shutout percentage. That led to a win-loss percentage (.717, 14-4-5) that came in at 15th, as well.
IN THE POLLS
For the first time in five years, the UWM men's soccer team was not chosen as the favorite to win the Horizon League title. UWM was picked second in the coaches' poll released Aug. 17, edged out by Detroit in a very tight vote. Milwaukee received three of seven possible first place votes, as coaches cannot vote for their own team. UWM became the first Horizon League school to win four-straight soccer titles in 2004, breaking Evansville's old standard of three (1989-1991).
No. School Pts 1 Detroit (3) 44 2 Milwaukee (3) 43 3 UIC (2) 41 4 Green Bay 25 5 Wright State 23 6 Butler 21 7 Loyola 20 8 Cleveland State 7
PANTHERS IN THE PROS
Dombrowski and Zenoni extended another UWM tradition by continuing their careers professionally. Both players were drafted in the MISL Draft, with Dombrowski going to the Milwaukee Wave in round one and Zenoni, a second round selection by the Chicago Storm.
The Panthers will look to try and secure home-field advantage for the first round of the Horizon League Tournament when they close the regular season with games against UW-Green Bay and Loyola, who are currently both tied for the league lead with 4-0 records.