Rollercoaster ride ends

first_imgOn the top shelf of Wisconsin women’s soccer coach Dean Duerst’s desk sits the trophy from last season’s Big Ten women’s soccer tournament. Next to his desk is an enlarged picture of last year’s team holding up that trophy after capturing the conference title. The women’s soccer team came into this season looking to build off last year’s Big Ten tournament title and its appearance in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, the Badgers were unable to reach those marks this season.The Badgers fell to Illinois 3-0 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament last Thursday, bringing to an end a season that was filled with streaky play and missed opportunities.According to Duerst, the team missed chances earlier in the year to turn ties into wins, specifically a 2-2 tie with Nebraska and a 1-1 tie against Pepperdine.”If we could get those results back and have those as wins, that could’ve surged our momentum a little bit and maybe carried us through some of the other tough games,” Duerst said. He also said that the team was “so close” to getting things back to last season but that the breaks weren’t going their team’s way.”One or two little things can change your season,” Duerst said. “Momentum was probably the biggest factor; we didn’t catch a ride of momentum.” The lack of momentum stems from the fact that throughout the season, the team failed to register a two-game winning streak and never got better than a three-game unbeaten streak.Both sides of the ball were plagued with inconsistent play during the course of the year. On offense, the Badgers were led by sophomore forward Taylor Walsh with 17 points. Five other players registered at least nine points during the year, but even with such balanced scoring, the team would still go cold. The team was shut out six times during the year, including five of its last six matches of the season.”A lot of times there’s no quick fix and so you just got to keep plugging away and fight through those tough periods,” Duerst said. “That will be important for us in the future to find ways to find that 1-0 victory.”The Badgers were not consistent enough on the defensive side of the ball for Duerst’s liking either. The team registered five shutouts during the year, but still gave up 1.42 goals per game, putting them second to last in the Big Ten.”We were just a little too inconsistent,” Duerst said. “At times we were our own worst enemy by creating some unnecessary fouls and some of those little breakdowns where you just want more consistency day in and day out.”While the season may have seemed like a down year, there were some things that pleasantly surprised Duerst this year. He liked seeing the offense with its balanced scoring, and he liked that some freshmen got quite a bit of playing time. Four freshmen in particular saw action in at least 12 matches, including defender Whitney Owusu who started 17 of the 18 matches she appeared in and midfielder Krista Liskevych who started nine of the 18 she played in. “[The freshmen] got some experience. They got a taste of the highs and lows … so for them to be able to learn from that experience will be real important, and [they can] use that as motivation and determination,” Duerst said.Regardless of how the team was going to finish this year, it was going to be a special season because it marked the 25th anniversary of the women’s soccer program. Duerst said it was a great experience for his team.”A lot of alumni came back and our team got to experience their stories on a real special night,” the head coach said. “That’s something I’ll remember forever.”As the team looks toward next season, they’ll have to deal with losing five seniors including midfielder Kara Kabellis, who was on the Big Ten all-conference teams three times in her career, including twice being named to the first team. Duerst expressed that they’ll have to look and see where they can make improvements as they head into next year.”We really have to rebuild and take a look at how we might have to change some of the ways in which we’re playing and try to play to the strengths of our personnel a bit more,” Duerst said.It’s unsure what next season will bring, but one thing is for sure: There’s still room on that shelf.last_img

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