Senior night at McClimon

first_imgThe Wisconsin women’s soccer team (3-5-1, 6-8-3) controls its own destiny as it heads into its regular-season finale tonight against Northwestern (4-4-1, 8-8-2). The night will also be special for five members of the team, as the Badgers will honor them on Senior Night, marking their last home game and possibly the last game of their careers.Kara Kabellis, Stefani Szczechowski, Natalie Horner, Lindsey Walker and Allison Preiss could all possibly be donning their Badger jerseys for the last time as the Wildcats come to Madison for a crucial game. While emotions are running high for the seniors, they’re confident in the team’s ability.”The emotions will be high,” Kabellis said. “But I think we’re pretty confident. We know we can beat Northwestern.”Last year, the Badgers’ chances of making the Big Ten tournament came down to the last day of the regular season. Needing a win, the Badgers defeated Northwestern and earned the final spot in the conference tournament. From there, the Badgers knocked off Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan to capture the tournament championship and a place in the NCAA tournament. The team finds itself in a similar situation this year as it looks to punch a ticket to the Big Ten tournament. At this point, the Badgers control their own destiny. A win gets them into the tournament, but they can still get in with a loss if Michigan State loses to Michigan. If Wisconsin loses and Michigan State wins, then the Spartans will qualify and the Badgers’ season would be over.”It’s weird that we’re in the same position [as] last year, so we know we can do it, and we know we’ve had experience when we’ve been put under pressure,” Kabellis saidEven if the Badgers do make the tournament, their seeding will still be up in the air. If the Badgers win and Minnesota defeats Ohio State, then the Badgers will be the sixth seed. If the Badgers win and Ohio State wins, the Badgers will be the seventh seed. The other scenario is if the Badgers lose and Michigan State loses. In this case, Wisconsin would then become the eighth seed.But the bottom line is Wisconsin needs to get a victory, and head coach Dean Duerst said his team is ready for the challenge.”It’s similar to last year,” Duerst said. “I think our players know that we need to go for a win, and that’s kind of exciting. It’s a game you dedicate to your seniors and you honor them, and it’s your last home match. There’s a lot on the line so it’s really exciting.”To get the win, the Badgers are going to have to do something they haven’t done in four games: score a goal. Wisconsin has been shut out in its previous four matches, yet they feel as though they were close in their last game. “We created a lot of opportunities against UW-Milwaukee, we just didn’t finish,” Kabellis said. “It’s just that concentration and focus when you get those opportunities.”Duerst feels his team just needs to get one in the net to get back on the right track. To do that, he wants his team to try and get more balls on the end line and get more crosses and corner kicks.”We need to get some more set plays and get something going offensively in terms of just crashing on goal; find a way to get an ugly goal,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty.”While Wisconsin’s offense has been sputtering as of late, the Northwestern offense is currently ranked second in the Big Ten in goals and goals per game with 30 and 1.67, respectively.To stop the Wildcat offense, goalkeeper Szczechowski feels as though the team is really going to have to come together and be aggressive on defense.”We just need to be tenacious,” she said. “I think that’s the main thing; (being) tenacious in the back, and … diving in front of shots and … doing everything we can to stop them from shooting.”It’s a total defensive effort that starts from the forward line and goes back,” Szczechowski added.Duerst thinks the Badgers will have to keep the ball on the ground, move it quickly and control the tempo.”We’ve got to make the tempo go our way,” Duerst said. “We need to keep the ball moving, play to our targets and get our midfield and forwards going.”It will be an emotional game, not just because the season is on the line, but also because the seniors are potentially playing in their last match. Duerst said the seniors have been positive influences both on and off the field.”They’ve been great leaders, great people and really good in terms of the kinds of role models you want,” he said. “They’re very good students, good as group, good together, really get along, very positive and all uniquely different.”The season, like the careers of the senior players, is on the line.”I expect to win,” Walker said. “I think we’re going to pick it up a lot. I have a good feeling about this weekend, and I think the girls are ready for it.”last_img

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