Do or die weekend for women’s soccer

first_imgSenior Laurie Nosbusch (16) will play a major role in this weekend’s game as the Badgers attempt to gain six points in the standings with a pair of victories. Wisconsin has picked up only one win in its last six matchups.[/media-credit]Beginning Friday with a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers and continuing on Sunday against the Indiana Hoosiers at the McClimon Complex, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team plays two of three consecutive home games to finish off the regular season.Both teams are coming off losses last Sunday. The Badgers (8-5-3, 3-2-3) fell on the road to the Fighting Illini 1-0, and the Boilermakers (6-9-2, 2-6-0) had its short two-game winning streak snapped at home against Michigan, 3-1.“It is super important [to play these games at home] because we need to win these three games,” senior forward Laurie Nosbusch said. “Right now we’re not in the best position; we’re fighting to get into the Big Ten tournament and maybe theNCAAtournament, so the fact that we are at home, we think we have a really good shot to win out these three games.”The loss to Michigan, and the 1-1 draw that Wisconsin fought to with Northwestern the game before, had major ramifications in the Big Ten standings. Before those two games, the Badgers stood at second place in the conference with a real opportunity to run down first-place Penn State.Instead, UW fell all the way to fifth in the conference and looks at this weekend as must-win games, only two points ahead of ninth-place.“We have to win; we have to come out of this weekend with six points,” senior goalkeeper Michele Dalton said. “Every team is playing for the Big Ten Tournament, so even the teams who are at the bottom are competing at a higher level simply because they want to make it into the tournament. No team can be overlooked at all.”Like Wisconsin, Purdue doesn’t score a lot of goals, but the combination of Alex Hairston and Kellie Phillips has scored 12 goals and tallied 29 points this season. The duo will be the biggest concern for Wisconsin.“The big thing is to stop entry passes into [Hairston and Phillips] by good pressure in the midfield and the back,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “I think the less you let a good forward tandem deal with the ball the less opportunities they are going to have.”Wisconsin’s loss to Illinois on Sunday marked the ninth game this year that the Badgers failed to score more than one goal, a major factor in the team’s inability to support what has largely been a stellar performance by the defense all season.“We need to be able to keep the ball better. We’re not getting that many chances, and I think part of that stems from our spacing,” Nosbusch said. “So we are really spread out, and when we do get forward we aren’t able to keep it.”Of the three women’s soccer teams playing in Madison this weekend, none enters play struggling more than the Indiana Hooisers. In its last five games Indiana (6-9-1, 3-4-1) has a 1-4 record and been outscored by opponents 17-5, including a 2-8 loss to the Boilermakers. The eight goals tied a Purdue school record for goals in a game.A game the Badgers certainly want to put away early, doing so will require a much better offensive effort than Wisconsin has shown in quite some time, and the players are looking forward to playing a defense that may present multiple scoring opportunities.“In general that is one of the things we don’t do is jump on a team early and try to impose our will on them, so no matter who we are playing we need to focus on doing that better,” Nosbusch said.Indiana’s greatest offensive threat to the Badgers is Orianica Velasquez, who leads the team in goals and points with seven and 16 respectively. She is also tied for the team lead in assists and clearly is aggressive near the net with 69 shots, more than doubling the second highest volume shooter on the team, Lisa Nouanesengsy’s 32.The secret to defending a high volume shooter at this point in the season and a weekend sweep is an easy answer for Dalton.“We need some shutouts,” Dalton said. “As a defensive unit I think that helps boost our confidence a lot. This weekend I would like two shutouts, keeping the ball out of the back of the net on the defensive end and putting it in the back of the net on the offensive end. That is about as simple as a soccer game gets, and I think that is what we really need to focus on.”last_img

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