Aug. 29, 2007
A rainy morning and muddy field did not stop the Wisconsin women's soccer team from taking the field for the first time this season. UW had just 17 practices before opening its 2007 campaign at the Georgia Bulldogs Tournament on Aug. 31-Sept.2.
The 2007 Badgers have many "firsts" to look forward to this year, including a new coaching staff, 10 incoming freshmen and two transfers.
Head Coach Paula Wilkins took over for Dean Duerst, who stepped down in the spring after heading the program for 13 years. Wilkins comes to Wisconsin from Penn State, where she led the women's soccer program to six Big Ten Conference Championships in six years, as well as six NCAA Tournament berths, charting a 119-19-11 (.836) record - the second-highest winning percentage in the nation among active coaches.
Associate Coach Tim Rosenfeld joins the staff after spending the past six seasons assisting Wilkins at Penn State. Rosenfeld was instrumental the PSU's success, particularly in the development of the program's goalkeepers - most recently two-time All-American and Canadian National Team member Erin McLeod. At Wisconsin, Rosenfeld will primarily work with the goalkeepers and strikers, as well as handle scheduling, recruiting, travel and youth camps.
"Tim has been an amazing asset to every program he has been involved in," said Wilkins. "Whether he is aiding in player development on the field or in player growth off the field, Tim is passionate about his players and is truly one of the best goalkeeper coaches in the country. His track record speaks volumes to that."
Assistant Coach Cord Farmer comes to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania where he was stood at the helm of the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford men's soccer team in 2006. In one season, Farmer led the Panthers to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference playoffs for the first time in 30 years. Farmer additionally served as an assistant coach under Wilkins at Penn State in 2003.
The Badgers finished 7-9-3 overall and 4-5-1 in the Big Ten in 2006, the same year the program celebrated its 25th anniversary of becoming a varsity sport. The team lost seven letterwinners and four starters from 2006, including midfielder Kara Kabellis, a first-team All-Big Ten selection and team MVP. However, 12 letterwinners are returning, including seven starters.
In 2006, redshirt sophomore Taylor Walsh led Wisconsin with six goals. Three additional Badgers scored four times, including returning midfielder Sheri Ferron. Senior goalkeeper Lynn Murray looks to improve upon her three shutouts and 42 saves from last season.
At captain this year are senior defenders Ann Eshun and Katy Meuer. In 2006 Eshun had seven assists, which tied for third among Big Ten players in all games. Meuer, a Madison native, saw action in 17 of 18 games, including two starts, taking four shots, two of which were on goal.
Wisconsin's success on the field this year is likely to come from a variety of places. Multiple people have the potential to score goals and create different opportunities for the Badgers on the field. Instead of focusing on one key player like Kabellis in 2006, the 2007 team poses to be a threat by having multiple weapons that can create and score goals.
In 2006, 20 different Badgers saw significant playing time. Walsh and Eshun were two of the five players who started all 18 games. Twelve newcomers join the program, including 10 freshmen, each of them bringing their individual, special attributes to the team. Each will have the opportunity to compete for some of the open positions on the team.
The preseason will be extremely important for the Badgers who will use the time to prepare for the 2007 campaign and integrate the newcomers into the new system organized by Wilkins and her staff. The more familiar the 25 players get with each other, the more effective the team will be early in the season.
First up for the Badgers is a tournament on the road. Taking place in Athens, Ga., the Georgia Bulldogs Tournament will help determine where the team is at in terms of conditioning, teamwork and skill levels. The following weekend UW hosts its own Wisconsin Invitational. Wisconsin takes on two experienced teams in UC-Santa Barbara and Boston University.
Four more matches take place before the conference season begins. In mid-September, UW travels west to meet Brigham Young and Northern Arizona. Wisconsin takes on UW-Milwaukee and Northern Iowa at home on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25 to close out its non-conference schedule.
The Big Ten schedule never seems to get any easier, this year included. Wisconsin opens its conference slate on the road with Friday and Sunday games against Purdue and Indiana. The Badgers then stay home for three matches against Penn State, Ohio State and non-conference foe Loyola-Chicago.
On October 14-21, UW takes on Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan, all on the road. The Cardinal and White welcome Iowa and Minnesota to McClimon Soccer Complex before closing the regular season out at Northwestern on Nov. 2.