Wisconsin stout defensively, remains undefeated after sweep of OSU

Sophomore forward Alexis Mauermann earned WCHA Offensive Player of the Month for November and looks to lead UW to another series sweep this weekend.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The undefeated, No. 1-ranked Badgers (8-0-0 Big Ten, 14-0-0 overall) wrapped up another perfect weekend, defeating, and therefore sweeping, No. 4 Ohio State (5-2-1, 7-2-1) by a final score of 3-1. The Badgers played a nearly flawless game, shutting down Ohio State’s offensive attack and putting nearly constant pressure on the Buckeyes defense all game.

Wisconsin looked great in the first period, but they weren’t able to capitalize on any of its 18 shots on goal. They were, however, able to shut Ohio State down all period, allowing only eight shots on goal.

The Badgers were able to finally break through in the second period on a goal by junior defensman Mikaela Gardner, then netted their second of the day on a beautiful shot by sophomore forward Alexis Mauermann. Those goals got the nearly sellout crowd into the game, which certainly gave the Badgers a boost and momentum. Wisconsin ended the period strong and kept the 2-0 lead heading into the third.

UW was then able to put on the finishing touches, with the third and final Wisconsin goal scored by captain senior forward Claudia Kepler. That goal proved to be nice insurance after Ohio State scored two minutes later to make it 3-1. But, after a killed penalty late in the third, the Badgers were able to cruise to another victory.

“They really make us compete more,” Kepler said. “[Kassidy Suave] is a great goalie, but we knew that we just had to get her eyes and body moving side to side and eventually shots will go in.”

Wisconsin put up a ridiculous 50 shots against the tough Ohio State goalie, who really made the Badgers work for their goals all game. On the other side, Wisconsin redshirt sophomore goalie Kristen Campbell had another great day, saving 21 of the 22 shots she saw. Campbell entered this game with the third best save percentage in the nation.

Wisconsin is enjoying its second-best start to a season in school history, winning its first 14 games in a row, without a loss or even a tie. “You really just have to take it game by game,” said Kepler. “It’s a fun experience and we're just trying to enjoy it.”

Kepler and fellow captain senior forward Baylee Wellhausen led the way for the Badgers this weekend, and Wellhausen was able to notch her fourth point in as many games, after failing to put numbers on the scoreboard in her first 10.

Ohio State came into the weekend hot, one of the three unbeaten teams left in the country, including Wisconsin. Head coach Mark Johnson said that motivated his players a little more than usual in practice this week. “Our practices were really sharp all week, and I really liked the execution I was seeing.”

He also noted the huge crowds all weekend helped motivate and propel the Badgers. “We told them the crowds were going to be huge, if not sold out, and it really put a spark into us.”

He said the noise and energy in LaBahn helped the Badgers carry momentum all game as well

“The energy in the stadium helped our attack at times, and really helped us kill penalties all game.”

The penalty kill for Wisconsin was run to perfection in this second game against the Buckeyes, who went 0-3. Wisconsin has been pretty average all year on the penalty kill, so to see them kill Ohio State’s chances on penalties all day was very encouraging to coach Johnson, who said it was something they had been working on for a while.

The undefeated Badgers will be back in action next weekend, and will look to keep things going next week against No. 8 Cornell, who is coming off a weekend sweep of Princeton. The games are Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m.

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