After suffering a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to No. 22 Nebraska Friday, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team rebounded to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes 2-1 Sunday.
Going into Sunday’s matchup, Wisconsin (9-4-2, 4-3-1 Big Ten) knew they had to put Friday’s game behind them, regain their focus and get a win. Head coach Paula Wilkins said she was impressed with her team’s mentality throughout the game.
“I thought it was necessary,” Wilkins said. “I thought emotionally we were going to have to be strong for this game and I thought the kids responded decently well.”
Facing adversity like the Badgers were up against after Friday’s match, they looked to their seniors to help the team. Wilkins said senior midfielder Alev Kelter, the only senior starting on the field, took on that leadership role and did what she had to do to help the team win.
“I thought Alev played like a senior. We only have one senior on the field right now and she did a good job getting all the head balls,” Wilkins said. “Iowa has a really good player in Alex Melin in the air and I thought that Alev was under control and did a good job with that.”
Kelter has been a consistent force in the midfield for Wisconsin all season long. The veteran Badger is fourth on the team with nine points. Her goal Sunday is her third of the season, combined with her three recorded assists.
While coach Wilkins believes Kelter, who scored the game’s first goal, was the one player to really step up after the Nebraska loss, Kelter said she felt entitled as a senior to take on the role of helping the team rebound from a tough loss, and was more impressed with how UW was able to bounce back as a team.
“I think each person individually picked up their part today and did a fantastic job to come back and to help us win,” Kelter said. “We were a little bit rattled, so we just wanted to pick up the positives and deal with things that we can control and do well.”
The second and go-ahead goal of the game was scored by freshman midfielder Rose Lavelle. Lavelle was able to get a head on a ball initially shot by sophomore midfielder Kinley McNicoll and send it past the goalie to the far post with more than nine minutes left in the second half, her first career game-winning goal.
In just her first season as a Badger, Lavelle has made a large impact. Lavelle is second on the team in assists with six — behind McNicoll who has recorded an impressive 12 assists already this year — and currently sits in third with 18 points.
Lavelle, like Wilkins and Kelter, understood the importance of forgetting about Friday’s loss and performing well on Sunday.
“It’s definitely good to bounce back from the Friday game. Friday was a bit of a heartbreaker so it was good to get some confidence and good to get a Big Ten win,” Lavelle said. “I don’t think we played our best, but I like that we fought through the end and were able to pull off the win.”
As the end of the regular season approaches, with three regular season games left on the docket, the Badgers know they are likely out of reach of the Big Ten title. However, they knew the importance of Sunday’s game, as the Hawkeyes and Badgers entered the game with the same record, and winning the final three matches of the regular season is important for Wisconsin, who look to optimize their potential in the conference tournament.
“We knew we had to win because now the Big Ten title is out of the way, we don’t have that great of a shot at winning it. So now, it’s basically we are trying to get as many points as we can for a better seeding in the tournament,” Lavelle said. “This one was huge.”
Wisconsin will take on Minnesota Thursday night at the McClimon complex, before heading on the road to face Indiana Sunday. The regular season will culminate next Monday as the Badgers play Northwestern at home.