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Land of Lincoln: Badgers hit the road for Big Ten tourney

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The road to the 2013 NCAA tournament runs through Champaign, Ill., for many of the Big Ten's best as eight of the conference's top teams travel to the University of Illinois for the 2013 Big Ten tournament.

Follow the Badgers' journey as UWBadgers.com chronicles the team's every move from the dinner table to the locker room:

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Well Badger fans, our regular season is well underway! We have already completed our first road trip and just finished another series against the University of Oregon as well as Oregon State. It is safe to say that the first two series were a definite success and a great start to the year with three wins and a tie.  Not only was the soccer successful, but also the traveling has been a blast with the team.

Our team has come up with a game called "What are the odds?", and it provides endless entertainment, especially while on the road.  The game is played by asking a specific player what the odds are of completing a certain crazy task, similar to a dare in the game Truth or Dare.  The player in question then responds with an odds amount, such as 1 in 10.  

At the count of three, the person who is being asked, as well as the person asking the question must say a number that falls within the two numbers that were chosen.  If the two teammates say the same number, the task must be carried through, no questions asked.  After beginning the game in preseason, we have witnessed some hilarious things, such as wild hairstyles, unusual outfits, or even jokes to be played on the coaching staff.  

The game has been an amazing team building exercise and always delivers a ton of laughs. One highlight of the game so far has been seeing freshman goalie Meghan Ledin sprint through the Madison airport pretending to miss her flight to Oregon.

Another activity that was a memorable one for the team was touring the athletic facilities at the University of Oregon.  Although there is no doubt that we consider them our enemies since we faced off this past Friday night, there is also no denying that their facilities are some of the coolest we have seen, outside UW's of course.  

Thursday morning we got to practice right outside the gates of Tracktown USA and the famous Hayward Field.  Seeing the huge posters of Prefontaine was especially exciting for Kinley McNicoll, who considers him her favorite athlete of all-time.  After practice we headed to their game field to get a feel for the turf and the stadium as a whole.  Upon seeing all of the "O's" surrounding us, it was only fitting that we got a team picture in the shape of a W to show them that we had arrived and meant business. 
 
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Once we completed our walk-around of their field, we were given inside access to their team's locker room and film room.  A definite highlight of the tour was seeing the duck-shaped candy that was available in the team's locker room.  As Nicole La Petina commented on her Instagram picture, we couldn't wait to "bEAT the Ducks".  The last stop on the tour was Autzen Football Stadium, and even though it was an amazing field, in my mind there is still no competing with Camp Randall. 

After traveling from Eugene to Corvallis, we ended our stay in Portland on Sunday afternoon/evening.  Once we no longer had a game to immediately focus on, the team got the opportunity to unwind with some shopping in downtown Portland.  The Nike store was a must-see, so it was only fitting that very few girls left without a shopping bag in their hands.  With our wallets empty, we returned to the hotel for a quick night of sleep before our 5:30 am flight home.

Traveling coast-to-coast has been an amazing experience with this year's team, just like the rest of preseason has been.  Not only did we see new places and face unfamiliar opponents, but we ended the preseason undefeated, which is a huge feat for such a young group.  Although the trips have been filled with both on-field success and off-field fun, we are ready to turn the page and focus our sights on our huge game Friday night against Vanderbilt.  

The match will be our regular season home opener and also our promotional PAC the MAC game.  We can't wait to return to Madison to keep the unbeaten streak alive, and more importantly, protect our home turf.
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Hello Badgers fans! Our team certainly has been busy since the last time I was able to report on the team activities and other behind-the-scenes information. 

One highlight of the previous week was the annual Red-White game on Tuesday night. The Red-White game is an intrasquad scrimmage that we use as preparation for the season. All of the players bring both their red and white jerseys in order to switch between positions and teams so the coaches are able to get a final look at various systems of play before our first exhibition game. Although this year's game was not open to the public and was a bit of a struggle due to some tired, sore, and bruised bodies, it was amazing to be back on McClimon and playing on a larger scale.

The Red-White game was the perfect warm up for our big season opener against Marquette that occurred this past Thursday night. Although it was only an exhibition match-up and doesn't count towards our rankings for the actual season, Marquette is one of our largest rivals. The Badgers have not beaten Marquette on our home field for as long as Paula has coached here in Madison. 

In addition, Paula always stresses the importance of having the goal to "win the state of Wisconsin". Therefore, going into the game we all knew it was going to be no small task to get the win. However, one great way to get our minds off of the preseason nerves before the big game was our coveted tradition of a pre-game dance party (Video Courtesy of Cara Walls: @Caarraaa). 


More commonly referred to as simply "DP's", these dance parties occur prior to every time that we take the field, both home and away. Some dance parties are more energized and hilarious than others, and let me tell you, the Marquette DP was one for the record books. Whether it was the team-wide "Wobble" or Ke$ha karaoke, the dance party was the perfect way to gain some energy and momentum to carry into warm-ups and the game.

Once warm-ups were over and the starting eleven took the field, it was clear that the team chemistry and energy from the legendary DP was going to feed into our play. For the first time in the Paula Wilkins era at UW, we not only beat Marquette, but also played a great first game to get the result of 5-1. Although it did feel amazing to sing "Varsity" for the first time on our home turf this season, we ended the game knowing that the true work had just begun.

Following Marquette, we were rewarded with the first full day off since the beginning of preseason besides some recovery and rehab. Some spent the day napping, some spent their time shopping, and some of us even chose to spend our time crafting and creating decorations for our new apartments and dorms. After our chance to recover and rejuvenate, we were excited to take the field for a weekend of practicing in preparation for the beginning of our actual season.  

This week we will show all of our preseason work and be put to the test as we start our regular season on the road at UConn and Illinois State. Hopefully I'll have a few good stories from the road trip! On Wisconsin

- Carly

Vogel's View: Preseason heats up as team preps for Marquette

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Well several days have passed and it's safe to say that we are in the full swing of preseason! Two-a-days have definitely taken a toll on our bodies, but luckily we've had plenty of team activities to break up some of the practicing. 

On Saturday morning we got back in the weight room with Steph (our strength trainer) for some agility work and a lifting session. Immediately afterwards, we broke up into groups of four and ran from Camp Randall to Picnic Point.  For those of you who don't know, Picnic Point is a gorgeous park right along the Lakeshore bike path. A majority of the park is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Mendota for some amazing views of the water and the city of Madison. 

Once all of the groups made it to the very tip of the peninsula, our coaches Paula and Kristen were waiting for us with bags of food so we could have a team picnic for some extra bonding time. The picnic was a definite success and was a great way to get in some rest, recovery, and team building before practice in the afternoon.  

The following day (Sunday), we got to enjoy another team activity after practice in the morning.  However, instead of staying on campus, we carpooled out to McKenna Meuer's house on the west side of Madison to enjoy a home cooked meal and a movie.  The feature film of choice was Billy Madison.  

Surprisingly enough, it was the first time many of the girls had ever seen the movie. Although the movie delivered some great laughs, the obvious hit of the night was the overflowing crockpot of the Meuer's famous cheesy potatoes. Needless to say, we all left with very full and happy stomachs.

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The various team activities have been a favorite of the players, and there are many more in store. But one of my personal favorites thus far was the dance battle after practice on Thursday. Thanks to our new freshman Micaela Powers, we had a Beats by Dre speaker system to really get the music playing loudly. 

For the opening round we selected team dance phenom Marta Wangard and the outgoing freshman goalie Meghan Ledin.  Marta stole the show with her perfectly performed "Dougie", but Meghan was a tough competitor. There is no doubt that it was the perfect duo to kick off the dance battles that will take place for the rest of the season.

I hope you all stayed tuned for more behind-the-scenes info from our preseason camp!  We can't wait to finally take the field against Marquette on Thursday and I'm sure there will be plenty to report on afterwards. 

On Wisconsin!

- Carly 

Vogel's View: Wisconsin Women's Soccer All-Access

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It's that time of year again! For the 26 of us on the University of Wisconsin women's soccer team summertime has faded away and preseason is officially underway.  My name is Carly Vogel, and I am a junior defender on the team majoring in journalism. For the next couple of weeks I will be giving you an all-access pass behind-the-scenes of the Badger women's preseason.

We have finally finished our first day of practice, and there is a lot to report on! Technically, our first day of the season was Monday, August 6th, which was filled with endless meetings and medical testing for the freshmen and newcomers. We all reunited at 8:45 in the morning for our normal round-robin of meetings with members of the UW administration, student-athlete development, compliance and sports medicine staffs, among others.

Afterwards, the freshmen were whisked away to the UW hospital for medical testing. Meanwhile, us upperclassmen had the tough job of relaxing until our next meeting that started at 2:00pm. That meeting pretty much flew by since all of us were only concerned about one thing and one thing only... "Second Christmas". This would be the term that our team uses for equipment dispersal at the beginning of each season, in which we are never skimmed on some awesome gear for workouts and practices! 

Once the excitement died down, we had our first official team meeting where we reviewed all team rules and got our schedule for the preseason. The last activity of opening day was some team bonding with the Newlywed Game.  Kristen Weiss (assistant coach) hosted as we learned some very interesting facts about our new teammates and each other. Some of the highlights: Almost everyone's favorite Olympic sport besides soccer is gymnastics, and almost everyone would call their dad if their car broke down and they needed AAA. 

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The first day definitely breezed by, but Tuesday was just a little more tiring. We started the day bright and early (only 9:00am) with our first official practice of the 2013 season! We started it off with a bang, immediately jumping into speed, agility, and fitness testing on the turf of McClain. Once we all recovered and scooted out to University Bay field, it was time for some fun. 

Our first training included competitive 4v4 and 8v8. It was truly great to be back on the field with everyone and such a blast. Once the first practice was officially a wrap, we returned to Camp Randall for some recovery ice baths. Needless to say, ice baths are not a favorite of many of the players on the team. We also learned pretty quickly that the key to survival in one of the cold tubs is wearing socks. 

After that torture, we finally had some lunch and headed back to our apartments for a much needed nap. The second session of the day was equally as exhausting.  1v1's, 3v2's, and 5v5 were definitely a challenge after the intense morning session that we had already completed. But to end the day on a really high note, Paula informed us that two people would be dance battling to conclude each day of practicing this preseason! Be sure to stay tuned for a recap from Thursday's opening round!

I can't wait to keep you all updated on all of the latest behind-the-scenes Badgers preseason highlights! On Wisconsin!

-Carly

VIDEO: Top-10 goals of the 2012 season

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As we shift into the spring and look ahead to next season, let's take one last look at the 2012 season by scrolling through the best goals that highlighted an exciting year of Badgers women's soccer.

10. Monica Lam-Feist kicks off the season on the right foot (literally) with her game-winning score against Notre Dame in the regular-season opener. 


9. McKenna Meuer sends a sniper to the back of the net against Michigan State.


8. Lexi Peterson records her first career goal in a crucial Big Ten battle.


7. Cara Walls ices Illinois State in OT with her 2nd score of the match.


6. Kinley McNicoll puts away South Dakota State with her second goal of the game.


5. Lindsey Johnson sets up Cara Walls for a header against South Dakota State.


4. Kodee Williams gets in on the fun vs. South Dakota State with a left-footed goal.


3. Lindsey Holmes spearheads a comeback win over Illinois with her game-tying goal late in regulation.


2. Joana Bielefeld shuts the door on Indiana as the Badgers secure the comeback win on the senior's game-winning goal.


1. Cara Walls puts the cap on the 2012 regular season with her 2OT goal against Illinois in the regular-season finale.

An ode to the seniors

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As the saying goes, college is the fastest four years of your life.

Six seniors on the University of Wisconsin women's soccer team had an opportunity to extend their college soccer experience by doing something only 16 other senior classes have accomplished at UW  -- earning a bid to the NCAA Women's Soccer Championships.

After a 12-7-1 mark, the Badger senior class guided the UW to its third NCAA tournament berth in four years. Many of the current seniors experienced Wisconsin's 2009 Sweet 16 run, so the success the team saw this season was unprecedented, and frankly inevitable.

Supported by talented underclassmen, seniors Lauren Gunderson, Olivia Hoff, Erin Jacobsen, Monica Lam-Feist, Lindsey Hamannm Joana Bielefeld and Lindsey Johnson, led a Badgers squad that was arguably one of UW head coach Paula Wilkins' strongest teams to date.

Considering Wilkins has a 21-8 overall record in NCAA tournament games, including a pair of College Cup Semifinal appearances, the fact that she described this year's squad as "special" is no small accolade.

The impact of the senior class rippled through the entire season, like a wave that travels across a large body of water, from one shore to another. It all began with the Badgers' season-opening win over Notre Dame -- the Badgers second win over the Fighting Irish all-time -- which was secured by a game-winning goal from Lam-Feist, a 2012 second team All-Big Ten honoree.  

Gunderson sparked the Badgers' 3-0 start, posting three-consecutive shutouts and finishing with five on the season. Bielefeld and Johnson were the unsung heroes at the midfielder and defender positions, respectively, deflecting nearly every potential scoring opportunity that threatened UW's keepers. Bielefeld also contributed a pair of goals in 2012 -- both were game-winning goals. Hoff, Hamann and Jacobsen all played supporting roles, but were instrumental in their team's development.

The 2012 class was vital in the success of the Wisconsin women's soccer program in more ways than one --  but more importantly, Wilkins' first recruiting class played the biggest role of all in laying the foundation for future classes to come.

IMG_9162_600.jpgThe Badgers hit the road for the second consecutive week as they continue their postseason in the 2012 NCAA Women's Soccer Championships. Wisconsin is making its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years, and has been pair against No. 3-seeded UCLA. Join the trip by following this picture timeline, as the team travels to Los Angeles, Calif., in preparation for the opening round of the Big Dance.

Sunday, Nov. 11
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The team hits the hotel once more to shower and, after a couple hours of lay time, heads to the airport to catch a red-eye flight to Minneapolis, then to Chicago. It's been a great trip and we can't wait to see what the spring and fall has in store for us. IMG_9209_airport_sm.jpg













Saturday, Nov. 10 (Gameday)
4:49 p.m.: And the countdown to kick off begins!!!
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10:03 a.m.: After gathering in the hotel lobby for breakfast, the team heads to a nearby meeting room to go over film. Never too early (in the morning) or too late (in the week) to polish up on in-game strategies.
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Friday, Nov. 9

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6:12 p.m.: The Badgers head to Drake Stadium for the team's final organized practice prior to tomorrow's NCAA opening-round match vs. third-seeded UCLA.  






12:54 p.m.: With a little bit of free time to roam, the Badgers hit Santa Monica Pier for a little shopping and sight-seeing. 

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10:48 a.m.: Becky McGrath and Marta Wangard lounge in the lobby as the squad awaits the green light on heading out to Santa Monica Pier for the afternoon.

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9:42 a.m.: As a result of the change in time zone, the Badgers got two extra hours of sleep before breakfast. The players really appreciated the hotel's buffet, especially "build-your-own-omelet" station.
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Thursday, Nov. 8
7:35 p.m.: After nearly nine hours of traveling, the Badgers hit Marina del Ray for a much-needed dinner. The place of choice is C & O Trattoria, which is famous for its never-ending (and absolutely delicious) garlic rolls. 

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Soccer Insider: Badgers with chance at making 2012 Big Dance

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Despite falling in the first round of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament and witnessing its own bubble nearly burst following Illinois' upset win over Penn State in the tournament's semifinals, Wisconsin is still alive and kicking in its quest for its third berth in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years.

The official announcement of the 64-team field will not occur until Monday at 3:30 p.m. (CT), but that gives us two days to project and form our own opinions on the chances that Bucky will see at least one more game this season.

The RPI rankings are one of the biggest indicators of a potential NCAA Tournament team. A team's strength of schedule, combined with its overall record, cannot make or break a team's chances, but are huge in the grand scheme of things. In theory, teams in the RPI top-40 are in the comfort zone, while Nos. 41-64 are sweating as they keep an eye out for upsets come conference tournament time. There are exactly 24 AQ (automatic qualifier) bids in the tournament, which go to each conference's tournament champion.

When looking at the latest RPI rankings, which were released Oct. 29, Wisconsin was in the top-40, falling to No. 36 after its loss to Iowa on Oct. 27. The Badgers' 2012 schedule featured matches against six teams in the current RPI top-25, which included games against four of those seven teams on the road. UW also suffered one-goal losses to a pair of RPI top-five squads in UCLA (8/31) and Penn State (9/16).

According to former MLS star and U.S. National Team member turned women's soccer blogger, Chris Henderson, this past week's conference tournament did not hurt UW as much as we thought. Following multiple losses for various bubble teams and squads poised to steal AQ  bids, it looks like Wisconsin's season is still intact -- but nothing is for certain until the NCAA Tournament selection committee says it is.

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The selection committee will make its announcement on the field of 64 on Monday, Nov. 5, at 3:30 p.m. (CT). The selection show can be viewed live on NCAA.com.

All-Access: The Badgers invade Bloomington

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As the Badger women's soccer team prepares for its second-consecutive berth in the Big Ten Women's Soccer Tourmament, follow the 2012 squad as Jeremy Wodajo chronicles the entire trip in his all-access blog.

Day 3: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012

3:11 p.m. - The bus pulls into Madison, Wis. After a combined 14 hours and eight minutes of driving, including over 700 miles traveled, the Badgers arrive safely on the UW campus. Now ... the waiting game begins. 

11:38 a.m. - Movie #2: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days....'nuff said.

11:02 a.m.  - After perusing the highway signs for a nearby Panera, we finally landed on one in Fighting Illini country. Although considered enemy territory, Champaign, Ill., was the most reasonable stop for food as we were just over three hours and 30 minutes from home and needed something to hold us over before then.

We also didn't want to take the chance of not hitting any food stops within the next two hours --  so all in all, the 20-minute wait in line was well worth it.

9:19 a.m. - The first movie of the trip back -- Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part II. Seemed like a good watch considering I was only awake for the second half of the flick. 

8:56 a.m. - Everyone is accounted for as we fill the bus and head back toward Madison. Aside from the short-lived rap battles that consumed all of five minutes of the trip off of the Indiana University campus, the exhausted and groggy faces of a few of the players also provided a source of entertainment for all. 

Day 2: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

10:04 p.m. - A disappointing way to end the trip in Bloomington, Ind., but the Badgers, along with the entire staff, remain in high spirits as the NCAA Tournament selection show nears.

The players and coaches will spend one more night in the "castle-like" hotel before hitting the road for Madison at 9 a.m. Thursday morning. The team will continue to train as if in season and plan to congregate Monday afternoon as the fate of their season now lies in the decisions made by NCAA Tournament's selection committee.

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7:01 p.m. - With plenty of time to rest, the Badgers load the bus and head to Armstrong Stadium. With music blasting toward the back of the bus, the mood seemed confident yet humble, as the players realize they potentially have one more chance to put it all on the line.

2:39 p.m. - After a short break and the opportunity to head back to the room to catch up on their z's, the Badgers rounded up for lunch. Following a brief walk, the group hit the jackpot just two blocks from the hotel, as we found Noodles & Co., and Potbelly Sandwich Shop right next to one another, nestled in between two clothing stores.

The late lunch allowed each group to get in and out with just enough time to head back to the hotel and nap before the 5:55 p.m. team meeting.

12:11 p.m. - After taking a walk down the winding hallway that led to the video room -- which included a stop at the mini-graveyard just outside of the hotel -- the team spent the noon hour watching film.

walk_through_sm.jpg11:09 a.m. - The Badgers pile onto the bus to head to ground zero -- also known as Armstrong Stadium. Before sitting down to briefly watch the No. 4 Minnesota Gophers take on the No. 5 Fighting Illini, the team used an auxiliary field to conduct a quick walk-through in preparation for their quarterfinal match-up.

10:48 a.m. - We are reminded that it is Halloween after walking back from breakfast and seeing nearly every student dressed in everything from cat costumes (whiskers and all) to the biggest human pumpkin I have ever seen.

9:58 a.m. - The 7:30 p.m. match time allowed the team a little extra time to sleep in this morning. Despite the later wake-up call, the team bus driver still needed his beauty sleep so the team explored the campus by foot to find breakfast.

The majority of the Badgers decided on a small bagel shop known as Bloomington Bagel Company (Go figure!), that is well-known for its "east coast" bagels. After a short wait in line, it seemed as though many of the players, and nearly everyone that was present at the shop, decided on some combination of egg, cheese and bacon/sausage/ham, inside of a plain, cinnamon or asiago cheese bagel.

Day 1: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012

10:41 p.m. - The bus rolls into Bloomington, Ind. UW head coach Paula Wilkins gives the team a short speech regarding the next day's itinerary before excusing them to gather their bags and hit the sack for the night. As we pile onto the 7 x 5 foot elevators, the players stare in awe of the "castle-like" structure of the team hotel, which is nestled in the heart of campus.

Two movies, one dinner stop and six-and-a-half hours of sitting have us all tired and ready for what tomorrow brings -- the 2012 Big Ten Tourney and a potential NCAA Tournament bid.

9:16 p.m. - The rain continues to fall as the second movie draws to a close. The noise on the bus is faint and it seems as though many of the players are either reading up for next week's midterms....or sleeping -- my guess would be the latter.

8:45 p.m. - A quick pit stop to one of the city's nearby gas stations results in a break from the chick flick and a chance for all to stretch their legs before hitting the home stretch of the road trip.

6:12 p.m. - The second installment of the movie portion of the trip began just after the six o'clock hour, as the consensus choice was No

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Strings Attached. The light drizzle that set in just as the bus entered the state of Indiana did not put a damper on the Ashton Kutcher-lovers who were seeing the movie for the umpteenth time, but still laughed at every comical scene.

4:33 p.m. - Just under an hour after crossing the Illinois border, the team makes the first stop of the trip at Sweet Tomatoes. Although the spot is known for its buffet-style menu of sandwiches, salads and soups, the pizza and ice cream stations seemed to garner the most attention.

2:07 p.m. - It did not take long before the first movie request was made. Regardless of the lack of interest from assistant head coach Tim Rosenfeld, who was manning the DVD player, the renowned trilogy and award-winning novel, The Hunger Games, was the first of two flicks played on the winding drive to Hoosierville.

1:52 p.m. - Following the team's noon practice, all 29 members of the Badgers' travel party boarded the Badger Bus and geared up for the 6.5-hour road trip to Bloomington, Ind., for the 2012 Big Ten Women's Soccer Tournament.

ON WISCONSIN