Two games have resulted in two wins for the Badgers already this season, and if they can replicate those results again this weekend, they will be on their best start to a season since 2004.
However, that won’t be such an easy task. When South Dakota State and Northern Iowa come to town Friday and Sunday, the Badgers will have to be on top of their game to remain undefeated.
South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits hail from a small, Summit League school of only 12,000, but don’t let their size fool you; they are a quality soccer team. They finished 11-5-2 last year, including 6-1-0 in their conference, and they were picked to finish second in the Summit League in their preseason coaches poll.
Their game scheduled for last Sunday against North Dakota was cancelled due to poor field conditions from heavy rainfall, and the weather forecast for Friday in Madison does not look too promising, with a high chance of thunderstorms all weekend.
Assuming the game is played, it will be another early test for No. 19 Wisconsin. SDSU’s goalkeeper Nicole Inskeep is coming off a nine-save performance in their season opener, while her offense helped her out with 17 shots, including eight on goal.
Wisconsin beat the Jackrabbits 5-0 in the 2012 matchup, but these are different teams, and the Badgers cannot take their opponent lightly if they want to continue their streak.
Like the Badgers, the Northern Iowa Panthers have already been involved in some tight games, losing their first and winning their second. Wins have been tough to come by for this team in recent seasons, and they have not finished over .500 since 2003.
However, they have reached their conference tournament two of the last three seasons.
The Panthers pride themselves on resilience and can really catch opponents off guard if they underestimate their small-school adversary.
That resilience showed in their Tuesday night win over St. Ambrose. Northern Iowa took shot after shot, racking up 17 over the course of the game, but they could not find the back of the net until the 84th minute, when the team finally connected on a header from a cross.
The Badgers’ defense may face another challenge in this game, and in order to continue the team’s strong start, they must stay aggressive to avoid an upset.
Friday night’s game is the PAC the MAC game, where fans of all ages are encouraged to come out and support both their women’s and men’s soccer teams, and Sunday’s game is Girl Scout Day, where Girl Scouts and UW Students get into the game for free. Both games will feature giveaways and activities for children. Friday’s game kicks off at 5 p.m. and Sunday’s begins at 1 p.m.