It came a bit later than expected, but the Wisconsin women’s soccer team filed their Sunday match against UW-Milwaukee under the win column for their first of the year after a 1-0 victory at the McClimon Soccer Complex.
Junior captain Laurie Nosbusch headed home the game’s only goal in the 17th minute off of a corner kick by senior Meghan Flannery.
“I think anytime you get a win especially over a team like Milwaukee, who obviously is always a perennial in their conference and in the NCAAs, is great, especially since we haven’t had a result yet,” said head coach Paula Wilkins. “It was a good spring board for us moving on in the future. For us, we want to start building on stuff [and this is a] much better feeling than it was Friday night.”
After drawing to a frustrating 0-0 draw versus South Dakota State on Friday, Wisconsin entered Sunday’s game with a more fluid offensive attack that pestered the Panther defense all afternoon, outshooting the Panthers 13-7.
Both offenses created multiple opportunities to probe the opposition’s goalkeeper early in the game but none proved to be all too threatening until Nosbusch sent the ball across the goal from the right-hand side and into the net.
“We’ve been practicing our corners a lot because last year we scored a lot on set pieces,” Nosbusch said. “We just ran the play – everyone did their job, got to their spots, and Fran played a great ball and it just happened to come where my run is and I was able to just put it back across the face of the goal like [assistant coach Patrick Farmer] always tells us to do and it went in.”
Following the goal, UWM increasingly applied pressure on the UW defense, though the Badger backline did well to prevent a prime shot on net, as senior Michele Dalton recorded two saves on the day.
UWM’s best chance in the game came in the 20th minute when Nicole Hirsch released a shot from the top left of the box that bounced off of the crossbar’s far end.
After UWM’s most threatening forward, junior Sarah Hagen, left the game after logging only 27 minutes to what appeared to be a small injury, the UW defense was able to slow down the Panther attack and swing momentum back to the Badger offense as Dalton was not pressed to make a save in the second half. Hagen did not record any shots before exiting.
Wisconsin nearly converted at the outset of the second half, when sophomore Lindsey Johnson sent her trademark flip throw-in into the box where junior Leigh Williams sent the ball wide off a header.
Minutes later, after a shot by Nosbusch had been saved, sophomore Alev Kelter booted the rebound back from about 10 feet out only to send the ball straight into the arms of goalkeeper Leslie Deebach.
The Badgers continued to create chances, as passing remained well-coordinated and patient. Williams and Kelter made several important runs and distributed the ball well, while freshman Kodee Williams twice got past defenders only to send the ball right into the hands of Deebach once, and wide of the goal another time.
The win over the Panthers was the Badgers’ first against the in-state rival since 2005.
After Friday’s game in which the UW offense was ineffective due to communication breakdowns and congestion, the Badgers were able to clean up that performance and become the threatening attack they were expected to be in the preseason.
“We were much more dangerous [compared to Friday's game],” Nosbusch said. “I think having two forwards up front for the start of the game was helpful and that we could combine and have more people in the attack and in the box.”
“And just the fact that everyone was moving off the ball a lot faster made it easier to play one- and two-touch passes which helped us pick apart the defense.”
Outside backs Johnson and freshman Catie Sessions also played a large role in the offense’s fluidity. Johnson kept the UWM defense on their heels with her throw-in and a free kick into the box in the 34th minute while Sessions advanced the ball well by making several long runs throughout the game.
“In the game on Friday their forwards were marking our outside backs so it was more difficult for us – we didn’t want to risk our last line giving away the ball,” Sessions said. “In this game, their forwards didn’t really check back to our outside backs so it allowed us to get up a lot more which really helped.”