After two Big Ten road shutouts to defeat Indiana and Purdue, No. 13 Wisconsin takes on Ohio State (2-3-0 Big Ten, 5-6-0 overall) Friday and No. 7 Penn State (5-0-0, 10-1-0) Sunday to begin a three-game homestand.
The Badgers are off to one of the best starts in school history, compiling a record of 10-1-0. Their lone loss came against conference foe Michigan in the final second of the game.
With a 4-1-0 record in conference play, Wisconsin currently sits in a tie with Michigan for second place in the Big Ten, behind undefeated Penn State. A win Friday against Ohio State will help the Badgers keep pace with these teams heading into the Sunday matchup with first place Penn State.
Even though the Penn State matchup is intriguing, head coach Paula Wilkins said in a press conference Monday she isn’t looking at that game just yet.
“I always think that’s a trap question for a coach because Ohio State is very important. Ohio State has actually beat Duke this year, who is a very good team,” Wilkins said when asked about Penn State. “From my personal perspective, you know the Big Ten championship can’t be won if we don’t take care of Friday.”
Ohio State comes into the contest with Wisconsin after defeating Northwestern 3-1 at home for its second Big Ten win. This victory snapped a three-game losing streak, a stretch where the Buckeyes fell to Purdue, Penn State and Illinois.
The Buckeyes are led by freshman forward Sammy Edwards who has found the back of the net four times and collected one assist, leading the team with nine total points. Redshirt freshman Megan Geldernick will do the goalkeeping for Ohio State. She has amassed 43 saves and allowed 21 goals in her 11 starts for a mediocre save percentage of .672. The Buckeyes are presently last in the Big Ten in goals allowed per game at 1.91.
Meanwhile, Penn State’s only loss came Sept. 5 against then-No. 14 North Carolina in double overtime. The Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents by an average of more than two goals per game.
Penn State has four players with double digits in points—Frannie Crouse, Mallory Weber, Raquel Rodriguez and Megan Schafer. Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom has allowed just seven goals in 11 games while posting three shutouts.
The Badgers’ offensive attack is led by senior forward Cara Walls, who returned from injury last week, as well as junior midfielder Kinley McNicoll, the team’s leading point scorer. McNicoll has scored seven goals with six assists for a total of 20 points. Walls, who has missed four games, has scored seven times as well. Redshirt senior midfielder Kodee Williams leads the team with seven assists.
“I’m excited about getting [Walls] back in there. She just adds a different dimension to the field,” Wilkins said.
The Badgers’ goalkeeper, redshirt senior Genevieve Richard, was named the Big Ten’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week after earning two of her six shutouts last week. Richard and her defense is the reason the Badgers have allowed just 0.36 goals per game, which leads the Big Ten.
“It’s been a team effort defensively. They’ve bought into what we’ve asked them to do. Hopefully they’ll continue that way,” Wilkins said.
The Ohio State matchup kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at the McClimon Complex and the Penn State game begins at noon Sunday. Fans who attend the Ohio State game will receive a Wisconsin scarf while supplies last.