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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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Badger back line returns to form

After giving up what seemed like an unprecedented three total goals in its two games last weekend vs. Ohio State and Penn State, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team returned back to its usual form this weekend vs. Michigan State and Michigan – shutting out both their opponents.

Before the weekend series began, head coach Paula Wilkins noted earlier in the week that in order for the Badgers to be successful against Michigan State, they would have to be reliant on their strong defensive ways yet again – the same defensive ways that helped the team set a new program record for consecutive shutout minutes.

“It’s going to come down to good defending and good group defending as a team,” Wilkins had said.

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And it certainly did, as the Badgers were able to prevail against both weekend opponents at the McClimon Complex by holding them scoreless and away from the goal for much of the match.

On Friday against Michigan State, the Badger defense had one of their toughest tasks to date as they had to go against arguably the Big Ten’s most formidable attacking duo. That duo included the Big Ten’s leading point-getter, Laura Heyboer, and third-leading point-getter, Olivia Stander.

After the game, which the Badgers won 2-0 thanks to a Laurie Nosbusch brace, Wilkins was pleased with the play of the Badger defense. Although the Spartans had their fair share of chances, the defense combined with goalkeeper Michele Dalton’s four saves helped to keep Heyboer and the Spartans in check.

“We held steady with what we were trying to do and I think we held Heyboer to fewer opportunities than she’s used to,” Wilkins remarked Friday night.

Then, on Sunday, the Badgers returned to their home pitch on less than 48 hours rest and showed another Big Ten side what they’re all about. This time it was Michigan and the Wolverines were rendered nearly useless on the offensive end.

So useless, in fact, that in the second overtime, as freshman midfielder Kodee Williams pointed out, the Wolverines were simply playing for a tie in the second overtime – largely in part because they could hardly penetrate the Badger defense all game.

“They wanted a tie, they were wasting time, and we just had to fight through that,” Williams said.

The Badgers were able to fight through as Alev Kelter rebounded her own shot after she latched on to a cross from the speedy Williams to give the Badgers a thrilling, golden goal victory in the 108th minute.

As the game-winner, Kelter pointed out following the thrilling victory the composure of the entire Badger team was what kept them confident so late in the game.

“It feels great, we were able to just hang on another game and just keep it going and stayed composed,” Kelter said.

Such composure would likely be a lot easier when you have a defense as strong as the Badgers do in the back. Moving forward, especially with the regular season winding down, the Badgers will need to keep that same composure in pivotal games.

The team is currently second in the Big Ten standings and needs Ohio State to get any result other than a win in its last two games to win even a share of conference. Despite the need for outside help, the Badgers are aware they can only control what they can do the rest of the season.

Regardless of whether the Badgers do end up winning the conference title, one thing is for certain – the Badgers defense is back and Northwestern will have one tough back line to go against come that matchup next week.

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