Badgers halt skid, defeat Nittany Lions

first_imgAfter snapping their two-game losing streak, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team left the field full of smiles after narrowly defeating Penn State 1-0 Saturday afternoon.The Badgers (6-3-0) were able to stay on top of the Nittany Lions (6-3-0) despite allowing numerous penalties near their own goal.“It was a group effort and something we haven’t seen yet this season,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “I am very proud of them today.”Saturday’s game was a big matchup for the Badgers, as it marked their first Big Ten conference game of the season. Penn State’s stature as the defending Big Ten Co-Champions only magnified the pressure surrounding this game. However, the Badgers were able to overcome any anxiety and claim their first Big Ten win of the season.During the 17th minute of play, senior forward and captain Laurie Nosbusch was able to put the ball in the back of the net off a long throw-in into UW’s offensive third to give the Badgers the lead.“I think [defenseman] Joana [Bielefeld] went up and flicked it on, and I was just standing in the middle of the goal wide open and it bounced right to me,” Nosbusch said. “Basically everyone else did all the work; I was just in the right place at the right time.”The team fought hard as the Nittany Lions never stopped pressing into the Badgers’ defensive end. Although the offense was able to produce a goal, it was the defense and senior goalie Michele Dalton who kept the Badgers in the game.“Whenever we have a zero next to their score, we have done our job,” Dalton said. “I am happy with the shutout.”Dalton made several diving saves throughout the game to keep the ball out of the Badgers’ net. In the 67th minute of the game, Dalton was barely able to get a hand on the ball as she punched the PSU’s shot over the crossbar.“The one that [Michele] tipped over the bar is the game-changer,” Wilkins said. “She has been doing that throughout the season and did it today.”Dalton’s impressive seven saves in Saturday’s game took much pressure off the offense, which knew it only had to score once.“As always, she is an amazing goalkeeper,” Nosbusch said. “Any time she can get a shutout, it makes our job easier. It gives us a lot of confidence knowing that, even if we mess up.”Aiding Dalton’s strong performance was the strong Badger defensive line. UW was able to maintain control in the back as it battled some of the top offensive players in the country. The Nittany Lions were able out-shoot the Badgers 12-6, but failed to turn any into a score.“I think we were coherent enough that we were all moving at the same pace and were all covering each other,” senior defenseman and captain Meghan Flannery said. “We trusted each other, so I think it was hard for them to penetrate our back line.”Wisconsin maintained composure throughout the game, something it lacked in its last game against Central Michigan Wednesday night.“I think the back line has always been our rock, and for some reason we have sort of lost that a bit in the past week,” Dalton said. “But I think we found it back and know what it feels like now.”Although the Badgers were able to hold off the Nittany Lions, several close calls due to penalties and handballs near the box kept the game within PSU’s reach. With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Nittany Lions had two opportunities to score from free kicks right outside the 18-yard box. However, UW narrowly escaped without being scored on when one kick hit the post and the other was saved by Dalton.Emotions also ran high for both squads Saturday. After an ugly battle for an air ball between Wisconsin’s junior midfielder Alev Kelter and Penn State goalie Erin McNulty left both players shaken up, the game intensified and players did not back down.“It was a good start to the Big Ten, which is always a physical conference,” Nosbusch said. “It kept us emotionally charged.”Free kicks were taken in high numbers. Both teams battled hard as the game became increasingly intense and physical. Four Badger players received yellow cards throughout the game, as did two of Penn State’s players.“Some of that was fatigue from us playing Wednesday,” Wilkins said. “It was a little bit more challenging for us being tired, and I just thought we brought the mentality that we were going to win balls and not let them settle it.“They are a great technical team and a great tactical team with their spacing, so we wanted to make sure that they didn’t have any clear possessions.”A factor that set the UW offense apart was the long flip throws from junior defender Lindsey Johnson near the PSU goal. It was this tactic that ultimately gave Nosbusch her opportunity to score.“Lindsey Johnson did her flip throw and it was her best one of the game,” Nosbusch said. “The defense has to worry about giving us a throw in down there because of the threat of a long throw.”Ultimately, the group effort allowed the Badgers to come away with a victory and be able to look ahead to their road trip with confidence.“[We] saw a lot more heart on the field today than we have in the past week with our play,” Dalton said. “I was really happy to see that, and moving forward, I hope we will continue.”last_img

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