For the first time as Big Ten rivals, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team will face the Nebraska Cornhuskers Friday night in Lincoln, Neb., eager for a win to turn things around after a difficult two weeks.
Wisconsin (7-4-2) has struggled recently, going winless in its last three games with ties against both Michigan and Minnesota, and most recently a loss to Ohio State Friday. Entering Friday night’s game against the Huskers (5-6-1), the Badgers are anxiously hoping for added intensity.
“[Friday's] game is really important; we need to pull out a win,” junior defender Lindsay Johnson said. “We have kind of been struggling the past few weekends. The focus for this game is to play together … and not let down each other down.”
While the past few games have left Wisconsin discouraged, the Badgers are determined to learn from their loss.
“We’re not going to let them get up the field like we did against Ohio State,” said Johnson. “Our biggest focus for this game will be pressure.”
Wisconsin is facing considerable pressure as seeding for the Big Ten tournament begins to come into focus. Currently tied for fifth in the conference, the Badgers cannot allow themselves to make the same mistakes going forward.
“We can’t afford to drop any more points,” senior goalie Michele Dalton said. “We need to get three points out of every opportunity … at this point, a tie is not good enough anymore, so we need to be effective on both ends of the field.”
To be successful, the Badgers will need to pressure the Huskers for the duration of the game and maintain possession of the ball. Cutting out simple mistakes that have cost them all season will be a key factor in the game, but the Huskers are also in need a win after suffering three straight losses, all in very close games.
Junior forward Morgan Marlborough has had an outstanding season for Nebraska so far and remains a huge threat to the Wisconsin defense. Marlborough leads the nation in both goals per game and points per game and has scored 16 goals thus far.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Dalton said. “We have never faced this team before … and they bring different elements to the game that we are not used to.”
In order to shut down Marlborough and the rest of the Huskers, the Badgers are looking to stop Nebraska’s progress up the field early, before Marlborough can get the ball.
“We need to work hard to pressure them and not let them serve [the ball],” freshman forward Cara Walls said. “That is a big part of their game, the service out of the back, so we need to cut that off.”
Although Marlborough is a big threat to the Badgers, the team is focusing on their own effort and areas for improvement. Looking back, Wisconsin recognizes that what it struggled with in its last game against Ohio State will hurt them against Nebraska if they make the same mistakes.
“I think we need to focus on ourselves and the details we do best,” Dalton said. “I think we will be successful.”