After starting the Big Ten season 1-1 last weekend, the Michigan women”s soccer team (3-4 overall) will host Northwestern and Wisconsin this weekend in what the team views as pivotal games in its season.
“You lose a game now with one loss in the conference, you take yourself out of the conference championship picture,” assistant coach Scott Forrester said.
Northwestern (1-0-1 Big Ten, 2-3-1 overall) is coming off of a strong opening weekend. After tying Indiana last Friday, Northwestern beat Purdue 2-1 in dramatic fashion as Kase McCoy scored on a free kick from 30 feet away as time expired.The No. 23 Badgers (3-3 overall, 0-2 Big Ten), on the other hand, started flat by losing 3-0 to Purdue and 1-0 to Indiana. The Wolverines still feel that the Badgers are the stronger of the two teams they will be facing this weekend.
“Wisconsin is more of a balanced team that can take on any defender. I think they”re more balanced and stronger overall than Northwestern.”
Captain Carly Williamson noted that Wisconsin is traditionally a very physical team with speed. They are also known for their strong strikers in years past.
Fortunately, the Wolverines won”t have to face Allison Wagner who graduated and now plays for the Boston Breakers of the WUSA.
Sunday”s 1 p.m. game with the Badgers is part of a double-header for Michigan soccer as the men will face Western Michigan once the women finish. Forrester thinks this will make for a particularly exciting game against the Badgers as he anticipates a “festive atmosphere” at the Michigan soccer field.
In practice, the Wolverines are focusing on offense after the Wolverines scored only two goals in as many games over the weekend.
“We”ve been working on defense and we have our defense organized. Now we need to work on getting the ball and keeping it we”ll be pretty powerful that way,” captain Andrea Kayal said.
But the team isn”t done improving the defense either. The Wolverines are still looking for the defense to play a full 90 minutes.
“Mentally, as the game wears on, we tend to have a few more breakdowns. We don”t play the same way. We tend to play not as sound defensively,” Forrester said. “Instead of being patient and letting a player come at you and give a little ground we want to, and maybe it”s just our aggressiveness at that point, we want to try and win the ball right away.”