In a follow up to what could only be considered a successful freshman season, Lauren Rice is off to a scalding start for the Wisconsin women’s soccer team. Last year, Rice put up five goals and three assists and became a significant piece of the offense. Her contributions were part of the reason for Wisconsin’s turnaround season.
Now a sophomore, Rice has significantly stepped up her game and has already managed to score four goals and record two assists in Wisconsin’s first seven games. She leads the team in goals, points and shots on goal, replacing Dani Rhodes as the team’s biggest scoring threat.
If Rice continues this level of offensive brilliance for the remainder of the season and into Big Ten play, she has a chance to make an All-Big Ten team. She has been a big part, if not the biggest part, of why Wisconsin has started 6-1 — winning their past five games.
The Wisconsin offense has produced multiple goals in five of their first seven games and has shown no signs of plateauing. The real test will come when Wisconsin’s Big Ten schedule begins Sept. 14 against Northwestern.
Rice’s offensive production is similar to what Rhodes accomplished in her sophomore season when she scored 11 goals and recorded five assists, contributing on 16 total goals.
Rice is on pace to finish the season with more points (goals are worth two, assists one) than Rhodes did last year, an impressive feat considering Rhodes season earned her All-Big Ten honors. The season has just begun, and the competitiveness of Big Ten play could slow down Rice’s production, but so far, Rice has been thriving.
Thus far, Rice has generated a sizable chunk of her offensive production has resulted from free kicks and corners. After Wisconsin’s most recent game against the University of Loyola-Chicago, head coach Paula Wilkins spoke with UW Athletics and praised the striker for her ability to create energy after these stoppages.
“I liked the set piece from Lauren. We’ve been working on that since preseason so I’m happy they organized that quite well,” Wilkins said.
The forward trio of Rice, Rhodes and Cameron Murtha make up a formidable force Big Ten teams must deal with for the next two season.
If Wisconsin can maintain its pace through conference play, the 2018 Badger women’s soccer team has a chance to be one of the most high-powered offenses in recent Wisconsin soccer history. Any soccer fan should feel lucky to have such a high level of talent available in Madison.