Aggressive defense aids UW

first_imgWith an overtime goal to give the home team the win Sunday night, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team wrapped up its weekend series with two victories.After a 2-1 victory over Illinois (7-5-2, 4-2-1 Big Ten) Sunday and a win by the same score Friday over Northwestern (4-10-2, 0-8-0), Wisconsin earned its second and third Big Ten victories thanks in large part to solid play by UW’s defensive unit.In a weekend where the defense allowed only two goals, the strong defensive play Sunday impressed head coach Paula Wilkins. “I thought it was a group effort in defending,” Wilkins said. “[Illinois] came out with a different system than we expected them to play, so people were able to adapt which I was really happy with. Lindsey Johnson has been fantastic for us in the back and being able to step in for (Alexandra) Heller. She was [as] good again today as she was on Friday.”The Badgers (10-5-1, 3-4-1) held the Fighting Illini to just seven shots on goal with junior goalkeeper Genevieve Richard stopping six of them.Richard, who has now started four games for Wisconsin, got the nod Sunday, but it was redshirt senior Lauren Gunderson who started for the Badgers on Friday despite Richard’s shutout in Wisconsin’s game against UW-Green Bay Monday. Wilkins explained the choice to start two different goalkeepers this weekend.“They are both great goalkeepers and they both bring different things,” Wilkins said. “We thought what Illinois brought to the game was going to be the strength for Genevieve today. We are looking at that game-by-game in terms of what goalkeeper brings special qualities.“It’s so difficult as a coach because they give me the most challenging problem of deciding who is going to play, because they both bring great things to the game.”Richard has 18 saves and has allowed only four goals in her four starts.The Wisconsin goalkeeper may have been able to earn her second-straight shutout if it wasn’t for Illinois forward Marissa Holden, who drilled a shot to the far upper corner of the goal in the 41st minute.Illinois’ goal was reminiscent of another goal made last Friday on Richard by Nebraska’s Mayme Conroy, who nailed a top corner shot in overtime.Richard was happy with the way she played on Sunday and is determined to stop at least one top corner missile this year.“[The Illinois goal] made me think of the Nebraska goal (last weekend). I was very close to it, so I will work on it in practice. I just want to save it at least once. I have to, it’s like my ego,” Richard said with a smile. “Strikers cannot just keep doing the same ball.“Overall I think [I played] fine. I really focused on getting over the ball. My kicks in the first half were terrible. I think it is not acceptable for me to give counterattacks and gifts to the opponent, so I will work on it again.”Friday it was Gunderson who played goalkeeper for the Badgers, recording three saves and holding the Wildcats to just one goal.After getting out to a fast 2-0 lead, Gunderson was happy the Wisconsin defense continued to play at full intensity despite playing with a two-goal cushion.“At the end, to win a game you kind of have to keep focusing on the details,” Gunderson said. “I didn’t think that we did that in a couple other games that we lost so it was good that we came out and worked hard.”In both games over the weekend, Wisconsin was able to keep the opponent’s offensive pressure to a minimum, doing well to limit the opposing transition attack.Senior defender Joana Bielefeld thought her defensive squad did a nice job stopping the fast breaks of the opposition.“For the most part I think that we really defended as a team and stopped them from transitioning,” Bielefeld said. “We were really concentrating on tackling and I think for the most part we did a good job.”Follow Spencer on Twitterlast_img read more