Following a 5-0 blowout loss to No. 2 Stanford on August 20, the No. 9 University of Wisconsin-Madison’s women’s soccer team (6-1 overall) has won five straight games, including a 1-0 upset over then-No. 3 Virginia. This Saturday, the Badgers look to stay hot as they open up Big Ten play at home against archrival Minnesota (4-1-2).
Sophomore forward Dani Rhodes has been a key contributor to UW’s success this season, as the Waukesha native leads the team with four goals and an assist so far, including the game-winner over UVA.
Historically, Rhodes has exemplified this scoring prowess and ability to come up clutch. Last season as a freshman, when Wisconsin travelled to the then-No. 8 Gophers, Rhodes was the heroine of that contest, netting the game-winning goal in the 99th minute to secure a 1-0 overtime upset.
“Dani brings a lot of pace up top for us and she always works really hard,” freshman forward Lauren Rice said. “She reminds me of a running back because she always runs right through everything and somehow comes out with the ball.”
Rice has also been a sparkplug for the Badgers, as she is tied for second on the team in both goals and assists with two apiece through her first seven college matches.
For defending Big Ten Tournament champion Minnesota, senior forward Sydney Squires will be their key to a potential upset this weekend in Madison. The Hudson native leads the Big Ten with seven goals and an assist this season, averaging more than a point per game. Squire’s total of eight points is five greater than her nearest teammate.
Even though unranked Minnesota will enter Madison as the underdog, it’s physical style of play and experience could make the game closer than it is projected on paper.
“Minnesota’s always such a physical team. It’s a border battle so there’s always a lot of rivalry when we play,” Rhodes said. “No matter what the rankings are, who’s predicted to win, it’s always a great game and atmosphere.”
Wisconsin leads the all-time series 15-13-1.
This is UW’s best start since 2014, when the team began 7-0 and finished 19-3-2. The No. 9 ranking is the highest for the Badgers since 2014 when they went to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Kickoff at the McClimon Complex will be at 4 p.m. Saturday and the match will be broadcast on BTN Plus.