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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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UM, MSU next for women’s squad

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After earning its first Big Ten victory last week over Indiana, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team hosts a pair of conference matches this weekend — Friday against Michigan and Sunday against Michigan State.

The Badgers defeated the Hoosiers in dramatic fashion as senior forward Taylor Walsh scored the game-winning goal with just 1:20 left in regulation. Head coach Paula Wilkins hopes the team will be able to build on the win and carry the momentum over to the games this weekend.

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“I think any time you get a win on your home field, it gives some positive and renewed energy to the team,” Wilkins said. “Our job as coaches and as a team is to carry that momentum to the next game.”

First up for Wisconsin (7-6-1, 1-4-0 Big Ten) will be Michigan (4-7-4, 1-3-2), a team the Badgers trail by two points in the conference standings heading into Friday’s match. The Badgers know the game against Michigan will be crucial in terms of qualifying for the Big Ten tournament in three weeks.

“It’s a big game for us,” sophomore defender Birdie Leibham said. “Hopefully we can get the job done and make a statement for our program.”

For some of Wisconsin’s upperclassmen, the game has a little added significance. Friday marks the first game for Michigan assistant coach Dean Duerst against his former team.

Duerst coached the Badgers for 13 years amassing a 151-105-31 (.580) record before leaving in 2006 as the program’s all-time winningest coach.

“I know personally I’m pretty excited about it,” Walsh said of facing Duerst. “Our old coach is at Michigan now, so I think a lot of the girls are pretty excited.”

In preparation for the weekend, Wisconsin stuck with much of the same routine as always with a heavy emphasis on fundamentals and concentration.

The Badgers focused on fixing the problems they have had over the last few weeks in hopes of executing against Michigan and Michigan State.

“We worked a lot on offensive and defensive transitioning,” Leibham said. “In past games we’ve struggled with defending, so we’re trying to work on that to improve our transitions.”

Also on the slate this weekend is Sunday’s matchup with Michigan State (12-3-0, 4-2-0). MSU currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten behind Purdue, Minnesota and Penn State.

The Badgers will have their hands full trying to contain freshman phenom Laura Heyboer. The reigning three-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week leads the nation with 16 goals and 40 points. Heyboer is the first Big Ten freshman to be named Player of the Week three times in a season.

Despite the accolades, Heyboer doesn’t intimidate the Wisconsin defenders.

“I think we just have to be ready; we have to be focused on everything,” Leibham said. “We have been working on forwards running at us and shooting hard, and I think if we do all the things we have to do we’ll come out on top.”

Wilkins also offered her thoughts on what the Badgers need to do against the Spartans to be successful in Sunday’s match.

“The most important thing for us to do will be making sure we defend well as a unit because they will be good on transition and counterattacks,” Wilkins said. “We have to be really organized and focused on their two leading scorers, [Lauren] Hill and Heyboer.”

However, Wilkins insists her team is not looking ahead to the difficult matchup with Michigan State and is instead focused solely on Michigan.

“We’re just looking at the game on Friday right now,” Wilkins said. “After the game, we’ll sit down on Saturday and prepare for Michigan State, but right now it’s all about Michigan.”

For Walsh, in order for Wisconsin to succeed this weekend they must emulate its play from a week ago against Indiana.

“We need to come out and play hard like we did against Indiana,” Walsh said. “We need to play the whole 90 minutes, which is something we’ve been needing to do all season. If we play hard and do well with all the things we worked on, we’ll be successful.”

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