After an up-and-down weekend that saw the Badgers’ seven-game winning streak come to an end, No. 13 Wisconsin (7-1-0) has had time to reflect as it prepares for another Big Ten opponent this weekend.
Nebraska is coming to Madison Saturday night. The 2013 conference champions have not started the season as strongly as they would have liked, sitting at 4-3-1 and unranked after starting the season ranked 13th. The Badgers are focused on beating a Huskers team that won on a last-second goal in the teams’ previous matchup.
“They know it’s a different team and a different season, and no game or no record up to now will make any difference,” said head coach Paula Wilkins at a press conference Monday. “But, if I said that kind of revenge wasn’t in the back of their minds right now because it was such a dramatic game last year, I would be lying. I think they are excited.”
Wilkins’ team may once again be without its leading goal scorer, senior forward Cara Walls, whose status is up in the air due to injury. Wilkins said Walls is “day-to-day,” but the team is unsure if she will be able to go Saturday.
With Walls on the mend, the team has to look elsewhere for offense. In her absence, two midfielders—freshman Becca Harrison and junior Kinley McNicoll—stepped up to take on the scoring. Harrison scored the first two goals of her career this weekend, including a game-winning overtime strike against Michigan State.
It is a team effort though, and coach Wilkins admitted that the team struggled to overcome the loss of its star scorer.
“I think when you have your leading scorer, who is third in the country out in both games, it’s a little bit challenging and we are really thin right now on the forward position,” she said. “I think that also lended us to having to defend a little bit more because we couldn’t keep it up top and I think we have to find different ways to approach it against Nebraska.”
A different approach may be all the team needs as it tries to get back on track Saturday. Wisconsin is tied for the best overall record in the Big Ten, but the Badgers need every conference win they can get to give them the best shot at taking Nebraska’s title.