Women’s soccer returns home trying to put first loss behind them

first_imgDespite suffering their first loss of the season in heartbreaking fashion last Sunday at Michigan, little has seemed to deter the confidence of the No. 13 Wisconsin women’s soccer team (7-1-0) as they return home for a weekend match against Nebraska (4-3-1) this Saturday.Following a series of successful road trips — which featured wins against Portland, Washington and Michigan State — Michigan put an end to the best start (7-0) in Wisconsin team history with a stunning final-second goal. The score came from Wolverines’ redshirt freshman forward Ani Sarkisian, which was her second goal of the night. Wisconsin fifth-year senior goalkeeper Genevieve Richard recorded a season-high six saves in the loss, while allowing just her third and fourth goal of the season in eight games played.At her weekly news conference Monday, Wisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins looked back at that final score and how things broke down.“I think the disappointing part of it was we had two times to clear it,” Wilkins said. “One, a free header at the very beginning, and the second one not-so-clear and we didn’t do such a great job. When we talk about getting better and taking care of things, that’s the things that we have to focus on and learn from and not let it happen again. I think it was a group focus.”Instead of dwelling over the frustrating defeat, however, junior midfielder Kinley McNicoll said the team has taken the high road and believes it’s a slip-up that will only make the team stronger in the end.“We are definitely going to use this loss as motivation and as a learning experience, and take our mistakes from the last game and fix them,” McNicoll said. “Hopefully they won’t carry into Nebraska on Saturday.”In a stinging twist of irony, the Badgers suffered an identical kind of loss in the final seconds of a game last year as well. And it was to none other than Nebraska at home. The Huskers went on to win the Big Ten Title last season.While it’s difficult for the team to not have last year’s result in the back of their mind, especially after last Sunday’s debacle, Wilkins believes this team has matured more than last season and is ready to focus on preparation for their Big Ten home opener.Perhaps the chance to play in front of their home crowd will be all the Badgers need to get back on track come Saturday. They have been virtually untouchable at home this season with a 4-0 record, 11 goals scored and only one allowed so far.McNicoll, who was been a focal point of the Badger’s offense thus far with six goals in eight games, believes an aggressive attack will work best against their Big Ten rivals.“I think we’re just going to have to use people’s individual talents to the best of our abilities and highlight the best parts of people’s games,” McNicoll said. “I think with the offense we have, we can do that, and we’ve got such a strong defense. We’re definitely going to test their backline and hope to push them back on their heels.”The Badgers are anxiously awaiting the return of star senior forward Cara Walls, who was on a blistering pace with seven goals in six games prior to missing the Michigan trip with an injury. Wilkins described Walls’ status as “day-to-day.”As she reflected back on the weekend, Wilkins acknowledged that the Badgers would have to introduce some new strategies against the Huskers to compensate for the potential absence of their top striker.“I think when you have your leading scorer [Walls] who is third in the country, out in both games, it’s a little bit challenging and we are really thin right now on the forward position,” Wilkins said. “So I think that also lended us to having to defend a little bit more because we couldn’t keep it up top and I think we have to find different ways to approach it against Nebraska.”Freshman midfielder Becca Harrison has offered a possibility for filling the void on offense. She made a name for herself last Friday against Michigan State, scoring both goals in Wisconsin’s 2-1 overtime win over the Spartans.Harrison’s two goals were the first and second of her Division I career, and they could not have come at a better time in the Big Ten season opener.“It was amazing to start off the Big Ten like that was just such a good feeling,” Harrison said. “I feel like a win like that just brings the team really close together, and it was just so fun to celebrate with everyone.”The Badgers’ defense could have their hands full Saturday against Nebraska sophomore forward Jaycie Johnson. Johnson is off to a commendable start this season with six goals and two assists tallied in eight games. The Huskers will look for redemption this weekend as well, as they are coming off a disappointing 3-0 home loss to Illinois last Sunday.The Badgers’ Big Ten home opener is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Saturday.last_img read more

Chiellini to miss date with Suarez in Champions League Final

first_imgJuventus’s hopes of winning the Champions League suffered a devastating blow as key defender Giorgio Chiellini was ruled out with an injury.Chiellini had reportedly been struggling with a calf problem on Wednesday, but it was not initially thought to be serious. But on Thursday Juventus confirmed that a scan had revealed a first grade tear to the player’s soleus muscle in his left leg, which rules him out of contention for the match.The 30-year-old centre-back has been one of Juventus’s key players this season, with some suggesting he is the key to stopping Barcelona’s mighty strike force of Leo Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Juventus were already a long shot before Chiellini’s injury, with bookmakers pricing them at 5-1 to win the match in 90 minutes and 12-5 to lift the trophy, against Barcelona at 13-20 and 4-11 respectively. But without the Italian international, Juventus’s hopes of winning the tournament – and with it, a historic treble – will lengthen further.WHO WILL REPLACE HIM?Chiellini’s place in the starting line-up will undoubtedly be taken by Andrea Barzagli, who has been in and out of the side since returning from a serious ankle injury just a few months ago. Since his return the 34-year-old Italy international has played a key role, either at the heart of a back-four or on the right of a back three, producing solid defensive performances in key matches including the Serie A-clinching victory away at Sampdoria at the beginning of May.Chiellini has made 44 appearances for the Turin giants this season scoring a single goal. –last_img read more