Kelly Conway has been the heart and soul of Wisconsin’s defense amidst a frustrating season. While her soccer team struggles as a whole, the junior goalkeeper is quietly having the best season of her career.
Conway’s performances in the net have kept UW in contention during a majority of their games. Yet her record doesn’t do her justice. Unfortunately, Conway hasn’t been able to notch many wins due to the team’s offensive struggles.
Conway has been a workhorse, starting and completing every match of the season and allowing only 1.27 goals per game.
“She’s literally keep[ing] us in [games],” head coach Dean Duerst said. “She is making, probably, two or three saves a game that could be goals against us.”
Conway has made vast improvements since last year, which can be attributed to the addition of coach Nick Paskarello. In his first year at UW, Paskarello has been Conway’s individual goal instructor.
“[Paskarello] has helped so much, it’s awesome,” Conway said. “When I first came here none of the coaches knew anything about goal keeping. I felt like I was stuck in a rut; now he’s really helping me.”
Running Conway through drills to improve her technique has not only helped her individually, but has also helped the entire UW defense stonewall opponents’ offenses throughout the season.
“This is his first coaching opportunity,” said Conway. “He’s young so he brings a lot of heart and emotion to game, which helps us as a team.”
With UW at the bottom of the Big Ten heap, Conway tries to keep the frustration to a minimum and doesn’t allow any one-person take to the blame for UW’s inconsistency.
“This year has been frustrating,” said Conway. “We win as a team and lose as a team.”
Conway will return for Duerst next year where she’ll be further improved and ready to increase her career victories with a team that will return many faces.
Fellow freshmen forwards Marla Froelich and Amy Vermeulen have officially arrived in the UW soccer system. Each has scored the first goals of their respective careers in their first year.
“I thought it was going to take a while,” said Vermeulen. “I didn’t really expect to score right off the bat.”
Froelich is owner to a different perspective on the ordeal. She wasn’t surprised by the relative ease at which her score came.
“I’ve never felt like "Oh I can’t score goals’,” said Froelich. “I was pretty confident I could get in and make a difference.”
Scoring a soccer goal can be one of the most infrequent events of a match, making the celebration an important event. How did the Badger freshmen duo commemorate their first goals?
“We did the bomb,” said Vermeulen. “We went and got the ball and threw it up and when it dropped we all fell down.”
Once again Froelich played devil’s advocate.
“I’m not big on [celebrations],” Froelich said. “I’ve never had anything that has been special to me where I do a little move or dance.”
The duet plans on making UW’s offense more potent as their careers move along. Having already laid the foundation, there seems only more to come.
After losing forward Allison Wagner to graduation, UW has had to face the reality of not having its team points leader return (she led the team in points all four years she was here). She was drafted into the Women’s United Soccer Association after her senior season by the Boston Breakers.
“She’s on campus,” Duerst said. “[The Breakers] released her before the real season. She was in the tryout for a few weeks and was one of the last players to be cut. She’s finishing her degree and she’ll try out again for the combine.”