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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers hoping to ‘Pac the Mac’

Goalkeeper Michele Dalton and the Wisconsin women\’s soccer team opens Big Ten play this weekend.[/media-credit]
Following a difficult cross-country road trip that ended in a 6-0 loss to third-ranked Stanford, the Badgers have had little time to recover before Big Ten play kicks into high gear.

After being outshot by a combined 44-13 against Stanford and UC-Santa Clara, the Badgers look to get back on track in their first conference match against No. 15 Purdue.

Wisconsin is also hoping to avenge a heartbreaking 1-0 home loss from a year ago by showcasing the same defensive fury and pressure that has stifled its early-season opponents.


“We need to match their intensity physically,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “We need to be good defensively as a team — all over the field.”

Unfortunately, though, vengeance will not come easily; the Boilermakers boast a much-improved team from last season.

Purdue also suffered defeats to both Santa Clara and Stanford, but the Boilermakers have not been shut out all season and have one marquee win under their belt after upsetting then-No. 6 Texas A&M.

Senior forward Jessica Okoroafo, who was forced to redshirt last year due to an early-season injury, has recorded 15 points in just seven games. Widely considered one of the best forwards in the Big Ten, Okoroafo leads an attack that has outshot its opponents 108-76 so far this season. Okoroafo has not been carrying the entire load, however, as senior defensemen Sylvia Forbes and Katie Seeger are contributing over one point per contest.

In order to keep pace with Purdue’s forwards, sophomore midfielder Erin Jacobsen emphasized the importance of capitalizing on their scoring opportunities.

“We need to create more chances, but mainly we need to finish the chances we get,” Jacobsen said.

Just two days after battling the Boilermakers on Sept. 25, Wisconsin will play host to No. 19 Indiana in a rematch of the thrilling 1-0 Badger victory last year. Indiana poses an up-tempo, fast-paced offense that is averaging just less than two goals a game. Freshmen phenom and Colombia native Orianica Velasquez Herrera has posted three goals in the Hoosiers last two matches and accounts for nearly 25 percent of the team’s shot total on the season.

Wilkins is very aware of Herrera’s game-changing ability and has instructed the defense to track her closely.

“We need to stop all entry passes to her and we need to be aware of where she is on the field at all times,” Wilkins said.

Junior goalkeeper Michele Dalton is undaunted by the Big Ten Co-Offensive player and Freshman of the Week.

“It doesn’t matter who’s on the field. It could be Mia Hamm,” Dalton said. “My responsibility is to slow the game down and make sure we play our game.”

Although no Badgers wanted to look past this week’s slate of games, many spoke to the team’s goal of playing in the postseason.

“We have a lot more confidence,” Dalton said. “As long as we do our job, there is no reason we shouldn’t be in the top half of the conference.”

Last season, the Badgers saw a dramatic improvement in their overall record (9-9), but fell short of a Big Ten Tournament bid due to a 3-7 conference finish. Still one of the youngest teams in the conference, the Badgers like their chances of playing in the postseason later this fall.

Now that the class of 2012, which ranked No. 21 of all 2008 recruiting classes, has one year of experience under its belt, Wilkins has observed a more poised, prepared team.

“Their work off the ball and leadership has proven big for us against non-conference opponents,” Wilkins said. “The games against Stanford and Santa Clara should help them and give them even more experience.”

Jacobsen — a key member of the class of 2012 — started all 19 games last season and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen team last season along with teammate Laurie Nosbusch. Jacobsen is already off to a hot start this year and scored the team’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Northern Illinois earlier this month.

“We have a really good chance at [getting to the postseason],” Jacobsen said. “We just need to stay focused and take it one game at a time.”

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