Badgers ready for Big Ten foes

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoAs the weather begins to turn cool, the No. 15 University of Wisconsin women’s soccer team readies itself for the start of Big Ten play.”The Big Ten is almost like restarting the season again,” UW assistant coach Carrie Barker said. “Once the Big Ten starts, it’s like starting from scratch. The Big Ten is like a different life.””Anyone can beat anyone on any given day in the Big Ten,” Baker added. “It’s very competitive and the most important thing right now.”With two losses already credited to their record, the Badgers are slightly off the pace they established last year.”Last year, we went 10-0 non-conference,” sophomore goalkeeper Lynn Murray said. “It was huge because we did not have the same strength of schedule that we have this year. Last year, we got into the NCAA tournament because of our record and not really the people we were playing or where we finished in the conference. As a team goal, we are trying to get to the same place we were last year.”Though the Badgers’ record currently stands at 5-2-1, the road to the NCAA tournament won’t be easy with a tough conference season ahead. Several Big Ten schools have found success early in the year.No. 2 Penn State leads the Big Ten with eight victories, as the Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents 24-6. Senior forward Tiffany Weimer has managed to score in all eight games — racking up 11 goals.Penn State is the only Big Ten school besides Wisconsin with a national ranking. En route to their unblemished record, the Nittany Lions have already defeated four ranked teams. The Badgers will have home-field advantage against the Lions Sunday, Oct. 2, and will be out for revenge after last season’s 4-0 loss in Madison.”Last year we lost pretty badly to them,” Barker said. “I think we need to have a recap and let them know that we are going to remember last year’s game and not be afraid to play them again. It’s important for us to evaluate ourselves.””We are a year older, more experienced and more driven to prove to them that last year’s game was an embarrassment and we will not let that happen again.”Northwestern is also off to a booming start. The Wildcats have won six contests, losing one road game to No. 23 Marquette, but have a history of losing away games. Last season they fell in seven of their nine road contests and were outscored 28-9.”The biggest lesson we learned last year was that we need to be as prepared to compete on the road as well as at home,” Northwestern head coach Jenny Haigh said. “We have a lot of pride playing on our home field, but we need to carry that same pride as competitors at any facility against any opponent.”Wisconsin will travel to Northwestern Oct. 28.The Badgers will open Big Ten play this weekend when they travel to Iowa and Illinois.The Hawkeyes have not had the same early season success, recording only one win, which came in overtime against Air Force. Over the last two years, Iowa has failed to win a conference game. Its last conference win occurred Oct. 25, 2002, against Illinois. Wisconsin has won three out the last four meetings between the two teams.”Iowa’s record does not mean anything,” Barker said. “You could have a horrible non-conference season and get that one win that will change the whole season around. We are concerned about playing them and after we are through with them, we will concentrate on Illinois.”Inconsistency has plagued Illinois this season. After advancing to the quarterfinal round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, the Illini began the season with a No. 13 national ranking but have since fallen out of the rankings. Sunday, Illinois lost 2-1 to Indiana State. The win was the first for the Sycamores against a Big Ten or nationally ranked opponent. However, the Badgers lost to the Illini last year, 1-0.”Illinois haven’t had the season they’ve wanted,” Barker said. “We can’t think they’ve had some bad losses and they are done. Anything can happen in the Big Ten.”last_img read more