The two-time defending Major Indoor Soccer League champion Milwaukee Wave finish up the regular season with back-to-back home games this weekend at U.S. Cellular Arena against Syracuse (Saturday, 6 p.m.) and Wichita (Sunday, 3 p.m.).
The team is looking for a strong finish before beginning its title defense at home in a March 10 playoff opener.
"You want to protect that home field and send a message to other teams that Milwaukee is a very difficult place to get a result in,’" veteran midfielder Giuliano Oliviero said.
Despite winning 16 straight games at one point, the Wave will finish second to the Baltimore Blast in the regular season series after losing three of their last four. It was a tough pill to swallow for the players, but they know that regular season success isn’t necessarily a predictor for the postseason – the last three regular season champions have not won the MISL title.
"We have areas that we need to improve on and losing a game here or a game there might be the best thing that can happen to us," Oliviero said. "It might show where we need to work on, where we’re a little weak, and losing is good if you learn from it. That’s what we plan on doing these last few games – making those corrections heading into the playoffs."
Milwaukee has battled injury and an inconsistent offense all season and hope some "home cooking" gets it back on track as playoffs approach.
"You want to take care of business on your home field," Oliviero said. "That is very, very important. I know we lost our home opener this year and that’s the only loss we have at home and that’s the way we want to keep it."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.