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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, September 25, 2022

Badgers look to continue winning ways against rival Gophers

Carrying a seven-game unbeaten streak, the Wisconsin women's soccer team (4-3-4) travels to Minnesota (9-1-2) Thursday night to take on the No. 15 Gophers.  The match projects as a classic duel between a high-powered Minnesota attack and a solid Wisconsin defense.

The Badgers will enter the game with a six-match shutout streak, their longest streak since 1991.  Having given up just six goals over eleven matches this season, including opponents such as No. 4 Portland and No. 3 UCLA, the Badgers should feel confident in their ability to defend against top offenses.  Senior goalkeeper Michele Dalton has been the anchor of the defense, and this week earned her second Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week award this season.  

When asked about Dalton's confidence and relationship with the defense, head coach Paula Wilkins spoke positively.

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""They trust her, and if you talk to Michele, her confidence is pretty good right now,"" Wilkins said. ""So I think that's something that you need from a goalkeeper, somebody who just feels like they're going to keep everything out of the back of the net.""

Wisconsin will put its shutout streak on the line against a dangerous Gopher attack that has scored 25 goals in 12 matches this season.  In contrast, Wisconsin's offense has scored just seven goals this season, and in order to challenge the Gophers they will need to find a rhythm that has eluded them so far.

Coach Wilkins should be happy with the improved play of the midfield, but UW needs more chances in the final third.  

""I still think that we need to have some more urgency,"" she said. ""We've gotten the ball into the final third, and I don't know if we're as dangerous as we need to be there. I think that comes from some passing, keeping possession [and] some movement off the ball. All those things are things we're going to be working on in practice.""

The Badgers will need to take advantage of their opportunities in the final third and play organized defense in order to stymie the streaking Gophers.  Minnesota is riding an eleven-match unbeaten streak that has seen them ascend to No. 15 in the latest NSCAA Division I rankings.  However, Coach Wilkins believes that the Big Ten is wide open this season.

""If you look at Illinois and Minnesota, their non-conference opponents and success has been very good, leading people to believe that there's a chance,"" Wilkins said.  ""I think the other part was Penn State not doing so well coming into the conference at 2-6-1. I really think that, there's a little bit of blood in the water, and the sharks are swimming.""

If the Badgers are looking to seize an early advantage in the conference race, their opportunity awaits in St. Paul.  

 

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