The Wisconsin women’s soccer team ended the weekend in disappointment Sunday, losing to Michigan 3-0 after a shutout win over Michigan State Friday night.
Sunday’s game was physical all the way through, with Michigan (9-2-0, 3-0-0) using its size and speed to its advantage. The Wolverines dominated the first half, retaining most of the possession and the only shooting opportunities of the half.
“I thought Michigan had a great game plan. They won crosses in the box, they were first to the ball and I think part of it is we got away from what we were doing well,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “We got casual.”
The breakthrough came in the 16th minute when star Michigan forward Nkem Ezurike latched onto a well placed through-ball by midfielder Meghan Toohey, slotting past Wisconsin (7-3-0, 1-3-0) goalkeeper Lauren Gunderson just inside the far post.
Minutes later Ezurike tested the young Badger defense again, receiving a pass from the midfield and executing a quick turn and shot on goal. Ezurike’s effort was palmed wide by Gunderson.
“[Ezurike] is physical, she is strong, she takes her opportunities when she gets them and she is a good finisher,” Wilkins said. “She is world-class, she played in the World Cup and you have to make sure you don’t give that kind of player any opportunities.”
Throughout the first half, the Badgers had a difficult time passing up from the defense and were often dispossessed or sent a pass astray to a Michigan player.
The action got off to a very quick start in the second half, when poor passing by the Badger defense led to a giveaway. Wolverine forward Corinne Harris then fed the ball to Ezurike, who beat Gunderson to the far post again with 58 seconds into the half.
The first quality chance of the day for the Badgers came in the 65th minute when redshirt sophomore Kodee Williams ran onto a through-ball and took a shot on goal, only to have it blocked by Michigan goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer and cleared by the Wolverine defense.
The third and final goal of the game came in with 12 minutes remaining. Midfielder Christina Ordonez sped around the corner of the Badger defense, dribbling 30 yards and beating Gunderson to the near post for her second goal of the season.
The Badgers picked things up a bit in the final minutes of the game. Forward Paige Adams attempted to chip the ball in with three minutes left, but Kopmeyer was able to get the tips of her fingers on it.
Wilkins wasn’t pleased with the outcome.
“We weren’t doing the details that we have done all season, and that shows – obviously they had a good players that could expose that and I don’t think we recovered emotionally from that,” Wilkins said.
UW prevails over MSU in down-to-wire 1-0 victory
All was not lost, however. The women’s soccer team tallied a 1-0 win Friday night against Michigan State during the “Pac the Mac” event.
The break the Badger women were looking for came in the 27th minute. Midfielders McKenna Meuer and Monica Lam-Feist worked a give-and-go into the attack, resulting in a shot from 20 yards out by Meuer, which looped over Spartan goalkeeper Courtney Clem and into the net for her third goal of the season.
The Spartans put the pressure on early, forcing Gunderson into a save in the seventh minute. But the Badgers replied minutes later when forward Cara Walls settled a cross sent in by Paige Adams, but she shot it wide left. Soon after, Walls forced a corner. The kick fell to Lindsey Johnson after bouncing around the box, but her shot went high.
“I made the pass to [Lam-Feist] out wide, so she passed it back to me, and I kind of saw I was at the top of the box,” Meuer said. “The first thing I had to do was just take a touch – and I took a shot and made it.”
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the game was in the final seconds. A scramble in front of the Badger goal resulted in the ball getting past Gunderson, only to be cleared off the line to save the game.
In the second half the Badgers enjoyed the majority of possession, limiting the Spartan offense for long stretches.
One of the highlights of the second half was a possible penalty claim for the Spartans after a collision inside the Badger 18-yard box, but it was waived off as incidental contact.
The Badger women had the better chances in the second half, however. Lam-Feist forced Michigan State goalkeeper Clem into an impressive save in the 63rd minute, and the Spartan defensive line executed a tackle on Walls a few minutes later.
Attendance for the event rose to 1,029 for the women’s game, a marked improvement over last year’s 624.
The Badger women face their fourth Big Ten opponent Thursday when they take on Minnesota in Minneapolis.