UW seeks Sweet 16 in ’06

first_imgAfter the women’s soccer team was knocked out of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, the team had time to reflect on what was a whirlwind season.The Badgers struggled in one-goal games throughout the year, losing 8 of 13 such contests and compiling an overall record of 6-8-2, while winning their last four games to get into the Big Ten Tournament.With their backs firmly up against the wall, the Badgers outscored their opponents 12-2 in those final four games and stormed through the Big Ten Tournament to win the championship and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that seemed to be headed toward an early off-season just three weeks prior.That was then.This season, the expectations are distinctly higher for the Badgers. Not only does Wisconsin return first-team all-Big Ten forward Kara Kabellis, both of their top goalies, Lynn Murray and Stefani Szczechowski, and playmaker Taylor Walsh, the Badgers bring in a top recruiting class and a number of capable transfers that bring in new style and confidence to the squad.Wisconsin will carry around 30 players in 2006, which will turn playing minutes into a premium and will certainly raise the level of competition for field time in games and practices.”We’ve deepened our roster in terms of quality players per position,” UW head coach Dean Duerst said. “That blend is important, and no player on the field can just go out and play; they need to perform. Everybody will have that pressure to perform well, knowing that someone could step in and do their job.”The two transfers Wisconsin brought into the program are midfielder Marissa Sarkesian from Texas A&M and forward Sheri Ferron from Seton Hall. In 26 games with Texas A&M, Sarkesian scored 10 points and helped Texas A&M win the Big XII Tournament championship; while Ferron, a native of Brookfield, Wis., played in 13 games during her freshman year with the Pirates.Duerst expects both these players to put in a lot of minutes for Wisconsin, since they have been good additions to the team so far.”Sheri has had a year under her belt, and she can step right in and play,” Duerst said. “Marissa has had two. She fits into our system real well. She’s a good position type player, and Sheri is a mobile player who holds onto the ball real well.”Their experience and confidence from their club backgrounds have really shown and have really added to the depth of this team.”Upon losing top ball strikers Marisa Brown, Jessica Ring and Amy Vermeulen, Duerst and his coaching staff plan on trying different combinations of players throughout the first part of the season to see what clicks for his team offensively.”We’re always going to be planning on making changes,” Duerst said. “We’re always trying to find the right blend to get results. I think what we’re going to see this year is more players getting more minutes and many players not getting as many minutes as they want. We want to see players perform at a high level and give us that energy we need.”From the first game of the 2006 season, Badger fans could see that this women’s soccer team has a lot of fight. The first game of the year against Creighton saw the women down 2-0 with 30 minutes left. While last year’s squad may have folded, this year’s experienced team fought back, scoring three unanswered goals to win their season opener.In their second game against No. 10 California, Wisconsin again found itself in an early hole, down 1-0. However, the Badgers created a number of good scoring opportunities in the second half to give the Bears a scare.It’s the fight from the women that Duerst thought was the most important thing to take away from the first weekend of play.”They have shown the sign of fighting; fighting to get back,” Duerst said. “With us being down two goals against Creighton, that’s soccer. Our team is starting to understand that you can be down one or two goals and put your game together, you can still comeback and win.”Things weren’t going the way we expected and we fought back,” Duerst continued. “We were able to get the result, which is an important thing for us to learn … You can fight back and win games.”After going 1-1 in their first weekend of action, the Badgers now play their next three games on the road against experienced teams, traveling to Nebraska, UC-Santa Barbara and Pepperdine. If UW wants to achieve one of its goals of advancing deep into the postseason, this will be one of the trips that will certainly prepare the team not only for the postseason, but for the rigors of Big Ten Conference play as well.”This team wants to make it to the NCAA Sweet 16,” Duerst said. “This team got a taste of it last year. There are high expectations of this time, and we’re challenging ourselves by the quality of non-conference opponents we are playing. We want to make a statement in conference this year and across the country this season.”last_img read more