Looking to build off of making the NCAA tournament for the third time in four seasons the 2013 version of the UW women's soccer team got off to a flying start with a pair of road victories, beating UCONN 3-2 on Friday night and then trouncing Illinois State 4-1 on Sunday afternoon. UW's 2-0 start is the 2nd straight season the Badgers have swept the opening weekend.
“I told the players before the game that Sunday’s are the days when you decide what type of player you are and they really responded to that with a good performance today,” UW head coach Paula Wilkins said to UWBadgers.com following the game on Sunday. “For a young team like this to win on the road twice this early in the season is a great sign and it bodes well for us in the long run.
The youthful Badgers learned a quick lesson in perseverance on Friday night to open up the season and they received that lesson from one of their few experienced stars in Cara Walls, who scored the game winner in the 81st minute to lift the Badgers over the Huskies 3-2.
It appeared to be all roses and sunshine for UW as they opened up a 2-0 lead on goals by Rose Lavelle (26:04) and Kodee Williams (46:41). However, youth learned a lesson shortly after as Wisconsin gave their lead back in just over 23 minutes.
Wisconsin used it's patience and perseverance to its advantage as a trio of shots inside the final 10 minutes of the game proved the Badgers weren't going to give up. It was the final shot by Kinley McNicoll that did the trick as her shot from the right side of the box hit the post, only to see scrappy junior Cara Walls there to knock home the rebound off the post for the game winner.
Junior goalkeeper Genevieve Richard earned the win, recording five saves between the pipes for the Badgers.
Sunday afternoon the Badgers faced a little less of a challenge against the Redbirds in Normal, Illinois. In fact, it was Cara Walls once again leading the charge as she picked up where she left off on Friday night, netting the Badgers' first two goals of the game inside the first ten minutes (4:37 and 7:29 respectively) to put UW up 2-0 and up her season tally to three goals on the young season.
Just like on Friday night UW gave back part of their lead quickly though as the Cardinals scored just about eight minutes later to cut the lead in half. That score stuck as the Badgers and Cardinals went to the half 2-1. Credit timely shooting and a great backstop for the lead at the half as Wisconsin was outshot by Illinois State 8-4 in the first half.
Wisconsin needed all of ten minutes in the 2nd half to re-up the lead to two as Kinley McNicoll opened her 2013 scoring account at the 50:10 mark of the half to put UW up 3-1. Just ten minutes later the win was virtually put on lock as McNicoll was once again involved. This time UW scored from a set piece, as McNicoll took the corner kick and junior Nikki Greenhalgh opened up her account for the season with a well placed shot.
It was a huge moment for the junior as she netted her first goal following a missed 2012 season due to injury. The goal was Greenhalgh's first since Sept. 2, 2011 against Dayton and just her 2nd career goal as well.
Once again junior Genevieve Richard was in at goalkepper and improved her record to 2-0 while be called upon to make six saves on the day.
Up next for the undefeated Badgers will be another weekend road trip as they head west to take on Oregon and Oregon State, on Aug. 30th and Sept. 1st respectfully.