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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


With mixed feelings, Dalton approaches final season

Senior goalkeeper Michele Dalton is entering her final year for the Wisconsin women’s soccer team. In three seasons, Dalton has a .836 save percentage.[/media-credit]

Many would say five years is a long time, but to Michele Dalton, it barely seems like a blink of an eye.

Dalton, a fifth-year senior and the Wisconsin women’s soccer team’s starting keeper, wants her last season to be her team’s finest.

“I would like to win a Big Ten championship,” Dalton said. “Going forward, that is something I have dreamed about. I felt like last season we were so close yet so far, just one point off. It kills me; one save or one goal would have done it for us. I would like to be a top-10 team as well.”


Her goals are specific, and her focus comes from a seemingly nondescript source: a scoreboard. Not the scoreboard at the McClimon Complex, though. Rather, Dalton remembers the one at North Field, between Camp Randall Stadium and the Engineering Centers building, where the women’s soccer team regularly holds practice.

“I remember vividly my very first practice up at North Field,” Dalton said. “I thought the coolest thing on earth was that we were practicing underneath the scoreboard where it says ‘Home of the Wisconsin Badgers,’ and that to me was just like, ‘I am home.'”

Wisconsin has become a welcoming home for Dalton, but she looks in the rearview mirror and can’t believe how fast time has passed her by.

“I am not taking things for granted as much anymore because I know the amount of times that I get to walk out and play under that scoreboard are numbered.”

As the countdown continues, Dalton has been prompted to reflect after seeing this year’s freshman class.

“They are asking me freshman-type questions and I just smile,” Dalton said. “It’s funny, it’s surreal, it’s heartwarming; it’s sad to think that this is my last chance to represent the University of Wisconsin as an athlete. It’s humbling and I am going to enjoy every second of it.”

The enjoyment she will have throughout the season stems from how close this team has become. Dalton calls it a family, and she’s been cast as the matriarchal figure.

“She is a leader, she is tough on us and she expects the best from us on the field. She is a great teammate and is always going to be there for you,” fellow senior Meghan Flannery said.

Dalton’s coaches have seen her push her teammates to become better, but they have also recognized her personal maturation during the past five years.

“She has become mature about the game, tactically, seeing stuff, and I think she has been able to push herself a little bit more physically,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “But most of it has been the psychological side of it, not letting goals get to her and wanting to be the reason the team is successful.”

Those improvements have rewarded Dalton with a special ability that few athletes in any sport have.

“She can make [the team] believe with one big save,” Wilkins said.

Dalton makes her teammates believe, but who makes Dalton believe? Wilkins has a big hand in that, and rightly so, because not coincidentally, Wilkins is also in the fifth year of her career at UW.

According to Dalton, she was Wilkins’ first recruit at Wisconsin and playfully jokes that it was the greatest day of Wilkins’ life.

While that may be an exaggeration, Wilkins certainly sees how important Dalton has been to the women’s soccer program.

“Michele has always had a great mentality and a great attitude in terms of a winning attitude,” Wilkins said. “She has always wanted the program to be successful. The first two years she didn’t play, but she didn’t give up.”

While every athlete loves to win, Dalton’s drive for excellence may be more tied to wanting the university to do well, as evidenced by the feelings she experiences just by walking around campus.

“When I walk down State Street and I am wearing Wisconsin soccer gear, I am so, so proud,” Dalton says. “You wear that ‘W’ and you wear the red and you are representing something far greater than yourself, and it’s a really cool experience.”

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