The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team (5-1-3 Big Ten, 11-2-3 overall) has once again qualified for the Big Ten tournament and has plans of qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.
The team is much the same as last year after losing only two seniors — goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem and midfielder Becca Harrison — from their starting ranks. However the Badgers have a slightly different feel to them, with more energy, finesse and maturity on the field.
Maybe it’s just a case of being a year older and wiser, but there is one more factor to Wisconsin’s elevated play this season: super-sub senior forward Emily Borgmann.
Borgmann hails from Mississauga, Ontario, a large city that is neighbor to Toronto. The fifth of seven children, she grew up in a soccer household, with her father and many of her siblings playing the sport before and with her.
Along with her well-established roots in the sport, the Canadian gained experience playing up top from the very start of her career.
“Occasionally I would play attacking mid, but I’ve always played forward, since the beginning,” Borgmann said.
Borgmann found an interesting tie to the UW program, as one of her youth coaches is the uncle of current associate head coach Tim Rosenfeld. That connection helped Emily make her way to Madison, and she verbally committed to the program during her junior year of high school.
Upon arriving in Madison, Borgmann was starting a majority of games by her sophomore season, and was playing well, scoring game-winning goals against Iowa and South Dakota State. But in her junior year, head coach Paula Wilkins found a new role for her talented attacker as a spark plug on the attack coming off the bench.
`This season, Borgmann has fully settled into the tough role and made it her own. Despite starting only three of 16 games, the striker is second on the team with four goals scored — including three game-winners against Marquette, Washington and Indiana.
The Canadian also ranks third with nine points, despite playing nearly half the minutes of other forwards like sophomores Lauren Rice and Cammie Murtha, all the more impressive considering the difficulties of coming off the bench and making an immediate impact.
“It’s hard to not start, you’re coming in cold with only a couple minutes to warm up and everyone is already out there at 100 percent,” Borgmann said.
Substitutes also have to relay tactics and formation changes to the players out on the field, along with bringing some much needed energy to their team. Fortunately, Borgmann has a tactically adept and experienced coach to aid her.
“Coach Wilkins really helps to motivate me and get me ready to get out there and make an impact,” Borgmann said.
The Badgers now have two more games in the regular season, including a tough final home game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1-3, 8-4-4) this Thursday.
Nebraska is one of the better teams in the conference this season, and plays with an unorthodox style that Borgmann said Wisconsin was trying to get familiar with.
“They run a 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 formation, so we’ve been practicing with playing a different formation ourselves to adjust,” said Borgmann.
When asked about Big Ten and NCAA tournament plans, Borgmann cautioned that the team needs to focus on finishing the season strong first and wait for the draws for the tournament brackets.
In her final season, Borgmann could be a key component for Wisconsin in a potential extended postseason run. While the Badgers have only one more scheduled home game this season, Borgmann is just focused on enjoying her final season with her teammates and wants to go deep with them in the NCAA Tournament.
“I love playing at home, but I’m going to miss my teammates the most,” Borgmann said.