Wisconsin, Purdue butt heads at McClimon

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/herald photoAfter falling on hard times in the Big Ten conference, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team (6-6-2) got a much-needed conference victory against Michigan last Sunday. However, the road doesn’t get any easier for the Badgers, especially if they hope to make postseason play. This weekend, Wisconsin hosts No. 23 Purdue (8-5, 4-1 Big Ten) Friday, followed by Indiana (5-7-1, 1-4 Big Ten) Sunday.While the schedule won’t get any easier, the win Sunday was a big morale boost for the Badgers, who had fallen victim to some very tough breaks.”[Beating Michigan] was really extremely important for us,” junior Katy Lindenmuth said, “not only to give us confidence that we could win again, but also as far as the Big Ten standings. Everyone is in a pack towards the middle. So we need to have a good weekend, just one game at a time.”Purdue has been on a roll, winning seven of its past eight games. The Boilermakers have allowed only two opponents — top-seeded Penn State and Oklahoma — to score more than two goals against them. As a team, Purdue ranks second in the Big Ten to Penn State in goals (27), points (80) and assists (26).Defensively, the Boilermakers have been solid, ranking ninth in the conference in fouls committed (158) and offsides penalties (20). Individually, freshman Jessica Okoroafo leads the team with nine goals and19 points. In net for Purdue, junior Lauren Mason ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 51 saves. All around, Purdue provides a tough challenge for any team.”Purdue has always been a real challenging game for us,” Lindenmuth said. “Purdue is always a really good team, but we have played such good teams this year by having a really strong non-conference schedule and obviously played tough teams in the Big Ten, so I don’t think it’s anything we haven’t seen. But [Purdue] is traditionally very good and fights really hard.”The Hoosiers provide a different type of challenge for the Badgers, as Indiana has one of the most balanced scoring attacks in the Big Ten. Save the goalkeeper position, Indiana has tallied a goal from every position on the field this season. The Hoosiers’ main scoring threat comes from senior captain Kristen Zmijewski. So far this season, Zmijewski leads the team with five goals and has tallied nine points. According to head coach Dean Duerst, Indiana plays with a lot of aggression, but that’s something Wisconsin can take advantage of.”Indiana has a lot of energy as a team,” Duerst said. “Because of that energy, anybody on our team can score at any point. It’s just a matter of us having the focus to sticking to what we do well. … We aren’t in a do-or-die situation totally here, but this team will need a real game mentality and a real focus — that could be the difference in going to the NCAA tournament.”For Wisconsin, who was ranked in the NCAA top 25 just two weeks ago, a strong finish in the Big Ten is a priority. However, Duerst is not looking ahead and concentrating on winning one game at a time.In order for Wisconsin to make that stretch run, UW will need to have a repeat of the Michigan game, which Duerst said was a measuring stick of how much heart this team has and what they need to play with this weekend.”There were three things that we did on Sunday, and that’s the approach going into this weekend,” Duerst said. “The biggest one is heart. That area boils down to slide tackles, using our bodies more physically and wanting every play more. … The second thing is that we want to play more in their half [of the field]. In the past, we have had a lot of possessions, and now we have to do a much better job of putting their backs under pressure.”The last ingredient is to play the ball out [toward the sidelines],” Duerst continued. “What has happened to us is that we haven’t been able to play the ball quick enough outside. By taking an extra touch, the defense can read that and win the ball. We need to do those three things this weekend.”last_img

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