After waiting 303 minutes to score its first goal of the season, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team took just under 30 minutes to score in a 1-0 victory over Northern Illinois.
Erin Jacobsen scored the match’s only goal on a free kick from 25 yards out in the 30th minute, bending the ball past the goalkeeper into the left corner of the net. The goal proved to be the eventual game-winner for Wisconsin as neither team managed to score in the final 60 minutes of play.
“We just kind of set it up and caught them off guard I guess,” Jacobsen said. “We’ve worked on it a bit in practice and I’m glad we got one in during a game finally.”
Jacobsen wasn’t the only one happy to see the Badgers’ set play work for once after so much practice.
“I was just waiting for one day for her to take that shot,” sophomore goaltender Michele Dalton said. “It was almost like it was me standing in the goal and I knew exactly where it was going to go. It was a great shot and an amazing finish.”
Dalton started in the goal for the Badgers, earning her first win and second shutout of the season. The shutout was the third straight for Wisconsin and the second victory in a row by a 1-0 margin.
Dalton was aided by an imposing defense that has not allowed a goal in three games at home this season. The Badgers kept most of the action away from Dalton in the game, making her second shutout an easy one but a shutout nonetheless.
“Shutouts. That’s what I live for,” Dalton said. “I didn’t see much action today, but a shutout is a shutout. I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
Though the Badgers did not wait nearly as long to score Thursday night, the cardinal and white still struggled to convert several scoring opportunities on the offensive end. On more than one occasion, Wisconsin failed to score on back-to-back corner kicks, as a pair of Badger shots were deflected — one off the crossbar and the second off the hands of NIU goalkeeper Lindsey Curnock.
The sophomore finished with six saves in the game to just one for UW’s Dalton, but unfortunately for the Huskies, the one shot Curnock couldn’t stop was the one that made the difference.
So, while Wisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins would have liked to convert on more of the team’s many scoring chances, she ultimately was pleased with the final score.
“Obviously, we did get a result against a team that’s had some good results against other teams,” Wilkins said. “They are always very good, I think; Northern Illinois is always known as a hard team that’s well-coached and organized.
“When we got a scouting report on them, I think they were described as ferocious; and so I think you know what they’re going to come with and you’re going to have to earn the right to play against them. I think they proved that tonight.”
Wisconsin’s second consecutive 1-0 victory closes out a three-game homestand, one that saw a young UW team go 2-0-1 against a set of nonconference opponents. Wilkins’ squad will take to the road again this weekend as they square off Sunday morning against Tennessee in a nonconference matchup.
Given Wisconsin’s recent road history, the game will be one the team can use to evaluate where it is at following an impressive three-game stretch at home.
“We need to get some rest before we go,” Wilkins said. “On the road we’ve got to be a little bit more focused in order to have some success. Tennessee has a pretty potent attack up front that’s very speedy, so we’re going to have to be organized and play good defense.”
“Paula always says we have not ever really had success on the road,” Dalton added. “But this year is a new year, and it’s time to start a new trend: to be successful on the road. I think it’s going to take an effort from everybody, but it’s definitely doable.”