Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


The fall that was: Five teams that found success this semester

A look into UW athletics’ highlights from the first four months in school
Soren Goldsmith
Badger Herald archival photo of the UW football team. November 29, 2023.

As the fall semester concludes, it’s time to reflect on the performances of various sports teams and individual players from the University of Wisconsin. Based on preseason expectations, several teams and players have shined — demonstrating exceptional skills and resilience. 

Here’s a closer look at the standout performances and key players from five prominent sports — women’s soccer, men’s soccer, football, volleyball and women’s hockey.

Women’s Soccer:


The women’s soccer team showcased a remarkable season with standout performances from key players.

Forward Aryssa Mahrt started in all 23 games for UW. She scored five goals and contributed seven assists. Mahrt’s .781 shots on goal percentage was the highest on the team, and she accumulated 17 points throughout the season.

On the defensive end, goalkeeper Erin McKinney started in 22 of the 23 matches. McKinney earned third team All-Big Ten and demonstrated a .805 save percentage with 62 saves. She also qualified for the College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team, showcasing excellence both on and off the field.

Forward Emma Jaskaniec, despite a season-ending injury in the 2022 season, bounced back this fall. She earned several accolades, including first team All-Big Ten honors and College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team. Jaskaniec was the spark plug for the Badgers all year long, as she led the team in goals scored with 12.

Men’s Soccer:

The men’s soccer team enjoyed a hot start to the season and had notable contributions from key players. 

Forward Maxwell Keenan tied for a team-best eight points in 16 games, earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. His versatility was evident with an assist in each of the first three matches and contributions to the team’s success.

On the defensive end, defender Nils Vallotto played in 12 games, starting in nine, and recorded his first career assist and point in the final game of the season against Indiana University. Similarly, defender Ryan Quintos had an impressive freshman year, starting in all 16 games. He was recognized on the TopDrawerSoccer’s Midseason Top 100 Freshman list and made the Big Ten All-Freshman team.

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The football team saw standout performances from key offensive players during the semester. That led them to a 7-5 record, earning a bowl appearance for the 22nd straight season. 

Running back Braelon Allen showcased his skills with notable statistics, including a season-high 145 rushing yards against the University of Illinois and two rushing touchdowns against the University of Nebraska. Allen finished up his final season at UW by entering his name into the NFL Draft.

Quarterback Tanner Mordecai — the Southern Methodist University transfer — contributed significantly to the team’s offensive success, with notable performances in rushing and passing yards, showcasing his versatility.

As the season carried along, running back Jackson Acker’s usage increased — including rushing for 65 yards against Rutgers University and recording a receiving touchdown against Nebraska.


The women’s volleyball team demonstrated dominance on the court, with key players contributing to their success. It led the group to a 26-3 overall record, where they rose to the top of the NCAA rankings for a majority of the year.

Outside hitter Sarah Franklin — a Big Ten Player of the Week — played a crucial role in the team’s victories. She led the team with 4.16 kills per set and achieved 1,000 career kills during the season.

Fellow teammate Anna Smrek — known as the tallest women’s athlete in team history at 6-foot-9 — made impactful contributions. This included 10 kills and a .667 hitting percentage in a match after returning from injury.

Additionally, middle blocker Carter Booth’s defensive prowess was evident with 1.6 blocks per set, leading the team and ranking eighth in the NCAA.

Women’s Hockey:

The women’s hockey team had outstanding performances to begin their 2023-24 campaign, with numerous players leading the charge.

It starts with forward Britta Curl, whose impressive statistics — including 28 points in 12 games — made her a standout player on the ice. She broke the school record for consecutive games with a goal scored and led the team in assists.

Defender Anna Wilgren’s contributions included 13 points on one goal and 12 assists in 11 games — showcasing her skills on both ends of the ice. Fellow defender Laila Edwards also demonstrated her scoring ability with 18 points on five goals and 13 assists in 12 games, contributing to the team’s success.

The UW women’s hockey team enjoyed the No. 1 ranking to open the season. They suffered their first blemish of the season with back-to-back losses against Ohio State University. Despite this, the team boasts a quality 12-2 record 14 games into the season. 

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What Went Well:

Across multiple sports, the teams experienced success in various aspects. Women’s soccer showcased a balanced offense with goal-scoring contributions from Mahrt, McKinney’s stellar goalkeeping and Jaskaniec’s impressive individual performances. That led them to a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they just came up short against the University of Texas.

Men’s soccer saw standout performances from Keenan, Vallotto and Quintos — highlighting the team’s depth. They look to use this experience as a stepping stone in the near future.

The football team witnessed outstanding offensive plays from Allen, Mordecai and Acker, contributing to the team’s victories. A sluggish portion throughout the middle of the season was noteworthy in head coach Luke Fickell’s first year in his tenure. The team bounced back though and closed the season with two straight victories.

Under the helm of head coach Kelly Sheffield, women’s volleyball dominated on the court with strong blocking, powerful kills and exemplary performances from Franklin, Smrek and Booth, along with others.

As the women’s hockey season continues to evolve, Curl, Wilgren, Edwards and the entire team demonstrated exceptional skills — leading to a successful start to the season under legendary head coach Mark Johnson.

Concluding thoughts:

The fall semester showcased exceptional performances from Wisconsin’s sports teams and individual athletes. Key players shone brightly — contributing to their teams’ success in various ways. While facing challenges, these athletes demonstrated resilience, determination and a commitment to excellence. 

As the semester concludes, the Wisconsin athletic community can look back with pride on a semester filled with remarkable achievements and promising performances.

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