Badgers fall to coach’s old team

first_imgGREGORY DIXON/Herald photoWisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins promised last week to deliver her halftime speech before Friday’s game with Penn State to spark UW’s first-half play.Whatever she said, it worked as the Badgers came out strong against the Nittany Lions in a hard-fought 2-0 loss.Despite the loss, Wisconsin (4-6-1, 1-3 Big Ten) played well and refused to give up, even after two quick goals late in the first half gave Penn State a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Overall, the team’s toughness and aggressive play impressed Wilkins.”They did something that they have not done all year for me and this program,” Wilkins said. “Obviously results are important, but their willingness to battle and compete together is going to be much more valuable down the line than anything.”In recent matches, the Badgers have often come out flat early and struggled to maintain intensity and aggressiveness for a full 90 minutes. However, they seemed to have solved that problem Friday night against the Nittany Lions.”There was just a mental focus right from the start,” senior co-captain Katy Meuer said. “[We focused on] all playing for each other, being technically there for each other, pushing through any little mistakes that we had and everyone moving as a group and being on and off the ball for one another.”For Wilkins, the matchup with Penn State was special and very exciting as she faced off against her former team for the first time. However, after 13 years at Penn State, including six as head coach, Wilkins admitted the game had her feeling anxious throughout the week leading up to it.”I have been having trouble sleeping all week,” Wilkins said. “You have these new [and old] relationships, and at the end of the day, it is about people. On both sides I want everyone to be happy because they are all good people.”Additionally, Wilkins did not feel she had anything to prove against her former team.”I did not move for that reason,” Wilkins said. “I do not think a win would have been any different.”In the match against the Nittany Lions, the Badgers played well on both sides of the ball, but the offense continued to struggle to create opportunities for itself. The shutout was the fourth in a row for Wisconsin and the fifth in its last six matches.Although Wisconsin continued to struggle on offense, it finally came out hard in the first half and continued to play well throughout the game.Further, the Badgers are confident about their ability to turn things around on offense; they believe they know what they need to do to improve.”We need to keep creating opportunities and getting people up front,” junior forward Taylor Walsh said. “Instead of having opportunities with one person alone, we need to get more bodies up there.”Wisconsin created those opportunities Sunday against Ohio State and came away with its first victory since Sept. 16 at Northern Arizona. The Badgers won by a score of 1-0 with the eventual game-winner being scored by Walsh in the 12th minute.After losing five of its last six matches, the win against Ohio State came as a welcomed change for Wisconsin.”It feels really good,” Wilkins said. “After building off the performance on Friday and seeing what kind of work they needed to do, I am very excited that we took a step forward. It is good to get a win, especially in the Big Ten.”Although the Badgers only managed to score one goal, the offense had a breakout performance against the Buckeyes. Wisconsin penetrated the Ohio State defense and managed eight shots on goal while limiting the OSU offense to only three shots on goal.Throughout the game, the Badgers were led offensively by Walsh, midfielder Krista Liskevych, and forward Darcy Riley who combined for six shots, five of which were on goal.Defensively, Wisconsin played hard and aggressively, not allowing Ohio State to create many scoring opportunities. Goalkeeper Jamie Klages, who did not play against Penn State, recorded two saves in 90 minutes of play to earn her fourth win and fourth shutout of the season.last_img

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