The No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team (0-1-0 Big Ten, 6-2-0 overall) open up their home conference schedule at the McClimon Soccer Complex on Friday as they face off with the Michigan State Spartans. Friday’s game will be an important one for the team, as they are coming off a 2-1 loss to No. 11 Penn State last Sunday.
The team is still searching for its first win in conference play and, although it is still very early, they could use a victory against Michigan State to even up their record.
“This week we looked at some of the things that Penn State exposed for us and said we need to focus a little bit better on those things,” said head coach Paula Wilkins. “For this game, when you have the advantage of being at home and having a good crowd behind you it’s really important.”
“The biggest thing is consistency for us and doing the things we do well,” she added. “Transition on defense is going to be important along with getting numbers behind the ball and knowing what our assignments are.”
Wisconsin is 22-4-2 all time versus Michigan State, winning each of their last five meetings in Madison. The team also holds the second best home record in the conference this year, outlining the perfect storm for a Badger victory on Friday.
“It’s going to be a really good atmosphere and I think we’re going to come out ready to compete,” said redshirt junior forward Paige Adams. “It’s always a really good game against Michigan State, so it’s going to be energetic and a fun game to play.”
The Badgers will complete their weekend set of home games as they match up against the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday at 1 p.m. Heading into the weekend, Michigan has won three straight games in shutout fashion.
“This week we’ve just worked as a team on how to play against [Michigan] and how to find gaps and how to get in behind them,” said Adams, who leads the team in both goals (four) and points (10). “If we can execute that I think we’ll be okay and be able to score some goals.”
The Badgers have not had a problem putting the ball in the net this year, tallying 20 goals to date. The team’s 2011 season goal total was 26, so they have already proven that they are well on their way to being a much more productive offensive attack this year.
From the looks of it, this weekend is shaping up to be host to a couple of very exciting matches for the Badgers women’s soccer team.
“Staying focused and doing the details right [will be key],” redshirt sophomore defenseman Alexandra Heller said. “We definitely need to bounce back this weekend after a tough loss to Penn State.”
Both Michigan State and Michigan are very organized teams and each have some dynamic offensive players.
“Every time you play a game in the Big 10 it’s an important game,” Wilkins said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”
For Wisconsin, it’s going to come down to refining their strengths this weekend as they look to get back on track in conference play.