Nick Van Sicklen netted two goals Wednesday night as Wisconsin's men's soccer team topped in-state rival UW-Milwaukee 2-1 in Madison.
"The team's effort was outstanding," Wisconsin assistant coach Jon Szczepanski said. "We coaches challenged these guys a couple of games ago to… give it everything they have and really concentrate on everything they are doing, both on and off the field; to pay attention to the little details and they did that."
The Badgers improved to 4-6-0 with the win, while the Panthers fell to 3-3-3.
Van Sicklen was especially spry, capitalizing on two loose balls in the box for both Badger goals. The first came at 14:39 with assists from freshmen forwards B.J. Goodman and Dirk Pearson. Goodman began the play by launching a well-played ball down the field to Pearson who juked a UWM defender before rifling a low-hard shot off the post.
Van Sicklen was alert and sprinted onto the loose ball sending it past goalkeeper Eric Mickschl for the game's first goal.
Van Sicklen scored his second goal of the day in a very similar fashion at 57:19. Aaron Witchger sent a ball to David Martinez who ran through it despite getting tripped up by converging UWM defenders. Once again Van Sicklen pounced on the loose ball and slotted it home. He also finished the game with five shots, four of which were on goal.
"He was our MVP tonight, not just for scoring those two goals, but he did a lot of other work. We are very proud of him," said Szczepanski.
Van Sicklen credited his team saying, "I think we definitely came together as a whole unit which we haven't seen the entire year. I'm proud of the guys for stepping up and playing with confidence."
Despite Wisconsin's commanding two-goal lead, UWM would not relent. They battled back and closed the gap in the second half on a Trent Furtsch goal at 65:24.
UWM had various other opportunities to tie the game down the stretch, but Wisconsin goalkeeper Eric Hanson would not crumble. He finished the game with six saves, three of which were in the closing minutes of the game to preserve a win.
"Eric is our rock. Everyone will say that in our defense, Eric Hanson is our rock," Szczepanski said. "He came through and made three big saves at the end. He's what makes our defense solid."
The win could not have come at a better time for the Badgers, who host No. 9 Penn State on Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I think if we play like we did today, good results will follow against good teams like Penn State," Van Sicklen said. "Our intensity and communication were better then it has been all season, so it would be great to get a win against a top Big Ten team."
Van Sicklen leads Badger victory
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