The University of Wisconsin women’s soccer team (12-3-4, 6-2-3 Big Ten) will travel to Tennessee to take on the Memphis Tigers (17-3, 7-2 AAC) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday.
The Badgers are one of six teams from the Big Ten invited to the NCAA Tournament, joining Penn State, Rutgers, The Ohio State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Wisconsin, along with every other Big Ten team, was overlooked as a top four seed in this year’s tournament.
But the Badgers should not be counted out to make a deep November run. Before dropping their last two contests, including a 3–2 overtime loss in the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin ran off a seven-game stretch without a defeat.
The main storyline this year on offense has been Lauren Rice’s emergence in the scoring game, excelling especially on the set piece. Though she went through a midseason dip in production, the forward pulled it together to lead the Badgers with seven goals and two game-winners in the Badgers’ final three regular-season games. Rice was third in the Big Ten with four game-winning scores for the year.
But forward Dani Rhodes has seemingly taken back the reins on the Badger offense shooting 12 shots over the last two games for two goals. Though Rhodes, an aggressive player, will at times sacrifice quality for quantity of looks as only three of these 12 shots were on goal.
Memphis will certainly be up for the challenge as the Tigers have won their past five decisions on route to an American Athletic Conference championship.
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The forward duo of Clarissa Larisey and Samantha Murphy will lead the way for a potent Memphis attack. Larisey leads the team with 12 goals while Murphy sits just behind her at 11. But Murphy has been the more efficient scorer, racking up similar production to Larisey despite trailing her 37 to 73 in shot attempts.
Wisconsin will look to advance past the Tiger’s Friday at 7 p.m. The match will stream online via the Memphis Tiger Network.