Thursday, October 21, 2021

Know Thy Enemy: Spartans head to Badger territory for Big Ten soccer opener

September 17, 2021
Michigan State men's soccer huddles up, prior the Spartans' 3-0 loss to Bowling Green on Sep. 6, 2021.
Michigan State men's soccer huddles up, prior the Spartans' 3-0 loss to Bowling Green on Sep. 6, 2021. —
Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Know Thy Enemy is a Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State's opponent. This weekend State News men's soccer reporter Sara Tidwell spoke with Ryan Calvert of The Badger Herald ahead of Friday's game between Wisconsin and MSU.

After a surprising turnaround at Notre Dame led to another 'W' in standings, Michigan State men's soccer has put it in park in Madison to take on Wisconsin at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

The Spartans enter the first Big Ten matchup of the season at 3-3-0 overall.

This week, The State News' soccer reporter Sara Tidwell spoke with Ryan Calvert of The Badger Herald ahead of the Spartans' matchup with the Badgers.

Q: Who are Wisconsin’s team leaders and how much are they relied on? Who else is emerging into the spotlight that could cause problems for the Spartans?

A: Senior forward Andrew Akindele has been off to another great start to the season, already recording one assist in our first few matches, so he's obviously one to watch in our offensive game. Sophomore forward Jack Finnegan has been leading us up top as well with a goal and an assist already in the books.

In the midfield, junior Tim Bielic is coming off a spot on the spring 2021 All-Big Ten Freshman Team with his first goal for the Badgers against Butler.

Sophomore goalkeeper Carter Abbott has already recorded two clean sheets this season, which has obviously helped us defensively as well.

It’s been hard to judge a lot of our younger talent thus far, but freshman goalkeeper Adir Raphael has already claimed a clean sheet in goal and looks to be another strong addition to our squad in his first season here at the University of Wisconsin.

Q: With an overall record of 2-2-2, what are Wisconsin’s strong suits? Weaknesses? How were they looking prior to conference play?

A: Thus far, we have seen a lot of defensive soccer from the Badgers. We have a few strong forwards and attacking midfielders as I said before, but have relied pretty heavily on our backline, which has helped us to keep those two draws as draws.

Preseason has given the squad a good chance to face-off against a variety of different styles of play from a variety of different skill levels.

One highlight was holding United Soccer League One team Forward Madison FC to a draw in our first match since the abbreviated spring season.

Another highlight was the win over in-state rival Marquette, as it proved to also be a strong showing from the Badgers. We're looking forward to seeing our offensive play improve, especially in converting more of our shots on goal into points on the board.

Q: What is your score prediction and why?

A: A 1-1 draw. Both teams seem to still be finding their footing this season and I expect that to remain true through the first half of play. My prediction is that most of the action will come in the second 45-minutes with both teams finding their way into the back of the net. All in all, it should be a great start for Big Ten play for both teams.

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