The scene is all too familiar. Time and time again the Badgers have been unable to put their opponents away when the opportunity presents itself.
“That’s what has been happening all too often to our team this year,” head coach Dean Duerst said in reference to the Badgers’ most recently botched opportunity versus UW-Milwaukee. “I think it was our game to lose and we had enough chances to win this game, so that’s a tough lesson for any team to go through.”
With the Wisconsin soccer unit growing sick of being beaten in games it has controlled most of the way, the Badgers’ chance of redemption will once again come against a rival.
UW’s lone game of the weekend is this Sunday, when Big Ten nemesis Minnesota (2-4 Big Ten, 3-7 overall) visits the Madison area. The Golden Gophers are eerily similar to UW (1-4-1 Big Ten, 4-6-2 overall). Wisconsin has dropped five of its past seven games and Minnesota has lost four of its previous five. Both teams have struggled to locate the back of the goal, combining for 11 games without a score this season.
“I think a lot is riding on this game against Minnesota now,” said Duerst. “We really do have fate in front of us.”
Both teams have their fortune for the rest of their season on the line this weekend. With the Badgers having played Wednesday, they hold an extra three days of rest over Minnesota, which plays Friday against Northwestern.
UW also seeks the comfort of home, playing at the McClimon Soccer and Track Complex, for a victory.
Goalie Kelly Conway and the rest of the Badgers’ defense will be zeroing in on the offense of UM forward Rachael Roth. Minnesota has only scored five goals all season, four of them Roth’s.
Against a team that struggles to put points on the board, Conway will be relied on heavily to stonewall the Gophers.
“[Conway] is experienced, and she is reading [the ball] well,” said Duerst. “She’s coming up with some big saves. She’s literally keeps us in [games].”
With the three-day rest, the Badgers have their fingers crossed that Kelly Kundert will be able to run against Minnesota. Kundert, who leads the team in scoring, was sorely missed Wednesday against UW-Milwaukee after sustaining an injury last Sunday against Iowa.
Hopes of lessening the frustration will be decided for UW Sunday at noon, but it will take a series of games to fully heal the wounds of past matches.
Duerst is not upset with his team, merely disappointed with the inability to win games in which UW outplays their opponents.
“I’m just very frustrated,” said Duerst. “I love this team . . . I think (we’re) a great team . . . [we’re] facing some real adversity now.”
With opportunities being plentiful, UW hopes it will be able to rise above and defy the nagging failure to put rivals away.