EDDIE Hernandez converted a penalty kick and Honduras (3W-0D-0L, 9 points) clinched a berth in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 1-0 win over hosts Panama (1-1-1, 4) in a spirited Copa Centroamericana encounter Tuesday night at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez. Honduras, who won their first three matches in the competition for the fourth time, remain atop the six-team table with nine points.The Panamanians had their tournament-record unbeaten streak snapped at 16 games and sit in fourth place – trailing third-place El Salvador on the most-goals-scored tiebreaker – with four points from three matches.The scoreless stalemate was broken in the 36th minute, when Hernandez rolled a penalty kick into the left side of the net, as Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon dived the other way. Referee Jair Marrufo had pointed to the spot after ruling that defender Luis Ovalle pulled Hernandez down inside the box.Hernandez’s second goal of the tournament came just five minutes after teammate Marcelo Canales put a blistering free kick from 30 yards just over the crossbar.Panama pushed hard for an equaliser, but were unable to break down a Catracho defence that had now conceded one or fewer goals in 21 of their last 22 Copa Centroamericana matches.Tony Taylor had a quality chance to level for the Canaleros in the 54th minute, beating an offside trap and cutting inside the box, before his low shot from 12 yards out was stopped by goalkeeper Donis Escober.Moments later, Panamanian midfielder Armando Cooper sent a dangerous ball across the face of the goal, but Marcelo Pereira slid to clear at the edge of the six-yard box.Panama’s best chance came in the final minute of regulation. Arabe Unido star Edgar Yoel Barcenas chipped an effort that forced Escobar into a leaping save.Honduras are three-time champions of the tournament, last winning in 2011. Panama, who have lifted the trophy once (2009), lost previously against Costa Rica 3-0 on January 23, 2009.Both sides return to action tomorrow as Honduras face Costa Rica.
Key departures have overshadowed the bright future awaiting University of Wisconsin football next season.These three weeks of work before the annual spring game will be crucial for the Badgers, who look to replace key talent all over its roster. But while the process is seemingly daunting, it actually isn’t.Despite all the big name departures (Defensive coordinatior Dave Aranda, quarterback Joel Stave, linebacker Joe Schobert) this squad has seen this offseason, the Badgers actually return most of their key players on both sides of the ball. In fact, the least turnover of any position for Wisconsin is in the defensive line-backing core.Football: Three former Badgers take part in NFL Combine in IndianapolisWhile there will be plenty of members from the 2015 University of Wisconsin football team’s roster headed for the NFL Read…“One thing that a guy like Schobert always did for the defense was make sure the young guys were in the drills and staying active,” sophomore T.J. Edwards said. “All of us being here for a while now gives us that ability to keep all the new guys in the rotation.”Despite this being Edwards’ first set of spring practices, the sophomore led the team in tackles as a freshman last season (84).Six of the seven starting linebackers from last year’s number one ranked scoring defense are back, including now senior captain Vince Biegel.Biegel had a standout season as a sophomore, but assumed a diminished role last year behind Schobert’s dominant senior campaign. He now looks to return to the top of the draft board and the team as a projected preseason First Team All American while also leading a young, promising line-backing core.Football: “Yin-yang” balance between OLBs Biegel, Schobert spells doom for opposing offensesAfter a series of fist pumps, chest bumps, hoots and hollers from other teammates, Wisconsin football outside linebacker Joe Schobert, Read…“Biegel was such a leader for us last year and I think even more of one now coming back for his senior year,” outside linebacker coach Tim Tibesar said. “He’s stepped up and he wants to be that leader. He doesn’t just want to teach the linebackers or the defense, but the team. I think he’s really embraced that role.”Tibesar is one of the few familiar faces left on a defensive front that enters 2016 without Aranda and their former defensive back coach Daronte Jones. Aranda left to be defensive coordinator for LSU and Jones left to be an assistant defensive back coach with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox takes over Aranda’s duties as head of inside linebackers following a failed one year stint at USC as defensive coordinator. He even coached against the Badgers in the Holiday Bowl last season.Football: Chryst believes Wilcox is ‘great fit’ as new defensive coordinatorWhen asked about his new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox in a press conference Monday, University of Wisconsin head football coach Read…“We want to be experts at our position and learn the situations of football,” Wilcox said. “Spring ball goes back to fundamentals and learning the verbage of the schemes. Talent is important in football and we have a lot of talent on this team; it just comes down to how you utilize that talent.”Wilcox’s intent on playing intelligent football is reminiscent of how the program has carried itself historically. While never boasting the top recruiting class, Wisconsin has always done more with less.Much of that comes from playing in an informed manner.“Wilcox calls it ‘getting your Ph.D.,’” Edwards said. “Our inside linebackers need to know every little thing so we can make our checks and we’re sure about our decisions. He’s really good with the fundamentals.”After a lot of conversation this offseason, the man who looks to be filling that final, seventh spot on the defensive front is redshirt junior T.J. Watt.Football: T.J. Watt makes impact any way he can for BadgersGlance at the Wisconsin football team’s depth chart, and No. 42’s last name looks familiar. That’s because the number belongs Read…T.J. Watt, the third and final Watt to come through Wisconsin, gained valuable experience subbing in for a tired Biegel whenever he needed rest at the end of last season. His play was indicative of the type of player he can be: one that will fit in nicely with Wisconsin’s current core of linebackers.“As a group, we want to be able to create more takeaways and make it harder on opposing offenses,” Tibesar said. “We just hope we can make more plays as a line-backing core and some of these young guys will help us do that.”With some new faces, there are ever present worries. But coaches and players have faith in one another.The resounding message coming out of spring practice from both the coaches and players was the importance of leadership in the linebackers.“Leadership just kind of comes with knowing the defense,” junior Jack Cichy said. “It allows you to help lead and direct people where to go. It gets to the point where you can do it thoughtlessly and these first few days have been great to get our feet wet with it.”The new but old set of linebackers will debut for the Badgers at the Wisconsin Spring Game, noon on April 23 at Camp Randall.
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