Badgers’ new depth yields offensive dividends

first_imgLaura Hill / The Badger HeraldLast year, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team displayed an offensive attack that was stagnant at best. UW ended up in the bottom half of the Big Ten in most offensive categories, including ninth in goals scored and shots per game. The Badgers’ offensive woes were due mostly to a lack of personnel with the ability to contribute offensively.This year, with newfound depth at the offensive positions, the Badgers are taking an aggressive approach to their offensive attack.Through the first three games of their non-conference schedule, the Badgers are dominating their opponents on the offensive side of the ball, averaging more than three goals a game after averaging just over a goal in each game a season ago.Head coach Paula Wilkins couldn’t be happier with the way the offense has been playing so far this season, attributing the success to a strong chemistry between the forwards and midfielders.“I think [the offensive success] is from the work rate of the midfield and the forwards,” Wilkins said. “It’s their willingness to attack and their willingness to get forward and their willingness to be unselfish for each other. It’s fantastic.”Redshirt sophomore Kodee Williams has been an integral piece in UW’s offensive success so far, scoring two goals and pitching in with two assists through three games. Williams, who missed all of last season due to injury and began the season coming off the bench, is delighted with the way she and her teammates have played thus far.“[The way I have started the season] feels great,” Williams said. “I think our team mindset this year has been really good and that’s made it really easy for me to come back. I had a bit of a rough spring, but I’ve been feeling great this season and the whole team has been playing well, and that makes it easy on the forwards to score goals.”The return of Williams and the addition of seven freshmen who play either midfield or forward have given the Badgers offensive depth that hasn’t been seen in years past. This gives Badgers several scoring threats to rely on, as seven players have scored at least one goal already this season.Sophomore forward Cara Walls, who was the team’s leading scorer last year and earned a spot on the All Big-Ten freshman team, welcomes the extra help putting up points this year.“There are more people who can get forward and contribute this year,” Walls said. “Last year it was kind of just me and another senior, Laurie (Nosbusch), who were kind of just always stranded forward. This year we have a lot of good girls who can get forward and score goals.”Along with depth, Wisconsin has been taking an aggressive approach on the offensive side of the field. UW is averaging 17.3 shots a game through its three games – considerably higher than the 13.3 shots a game it averaged last season – and has already amassed 17 corners compared to its opponents’ eight.“[The offense] has been aggressive,” Wilkins said. “We’ve gotten more numbers in the box then we’ve ever had; we’re committing people forward. We really want to space people out so we are willing to give up some stuff on transition just because we want to spread people out and be dynamic.”“We really combine well with one another. I don’t know if we have an out-and-out “take-on player” but it’s more of a group effort, and I think the scoring has been spread out and I think that’s a great thing for the team.”Wisconsin’s new assertiveness on the offensive approach has so far produced two wins in which the team has scored more than three goals. In contrast, the Badgers had only one game in which they scored more than three goals all of last season.The offense has been getting some help from the defensive players as well. Senior defenseman Lindsey Johnson has aided the Badgers’ offense by stacking up three assists in three games after garnering four assists all of last year.Johnson fit right in with the aggressive mindset of the offense, saying that she will do whatever she can to aid Wisconsin’s attack – one that looks intimidating through their first five games.“I have an offensive mindset for sure,” Johnson said. “I’d rather be up front than in the back, so I try to get it to forwards and I try to get up the field as much as possible to have as many people as possible on the attack.”last_img

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