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Position Preview: Forwards

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Position Previews: Midfielders | Defenders | Goalkeepers

The Wisconsin women's soccer team enters its 2012 campaign cautiously optimistic, as head coach Paula Wilkins and the Badgers feature a balance of battle-tested veterans and ambitious newcomers.

The Badgers return 15 letter winners from a team that went 10-7-3 last season and finished fourth in the final Big Ten standings. Among the returners is senior defender Lindsey Johnson and sophomore forward Cara Walls. Johnson returns after earning All-Big Ten second-team honors, as well as All-Great Lakes second-team accolades in 2011. Walls started 17 games as a freshman and led the Badgers in points (19) and goals (9) en route to earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team last season.

Wisconsin also returns senior midfielders Joana Bielefeld and Monica Lam-Feist in 2012. Bielefeld started every game last season and is poised for a successful 2012 campaign after tallying four points on two assists and a goal last season, while Lam-Feist has missed only one start over the last three years.

For the Wisconsin women's soccer team, the 2012 season will be somewhat of a rebuilding process, as the Badgers lost Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Michele Dalton to graduation and return only five starters from 2011. 

After Wilkins gave eventual conference champ Penn State its one and only loss of the Big Ten slate last season, Wisconsin looked like the team to beat en route to the conference crown. This season the Badgers are poised to regain their stature as one of the most dominant teams in the Big Ten and will look to make a run toward a conference championship and its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years.

Forwards
This year's group of forwards represents Wilkins most experienced bunch, as 2011 All-Big 
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Ten Freshman team honoree, Cara Walls, returns for her sophomore campaign and will more than likely be the focus for the Badgers' offensive attack. 

Redshirt-junior Paige Adams (picture) has shown tremendous promise at the forward position after appearing in 14 games in 2011, and will be asked to take on more of a leadership role this season. Wilkins believes much of Walls' success this season will stem from the strong play of Adams, who will be asked to take on more of a leadership role in 2012. 

Position Preview: Defenders

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Position Preview: Midfielders | Forwards | Goalkeepers

The Wisconsin women's soccer team enters its 2012 campaign cautiously optimistic, as head coach Paula Wilkins and the Badgers feature a balance of battle-tested veterans and ambitious newcomers.

The Badgers return 15 letter winners from a team that went 10-7-3 last season and finished fourth in the final Big Ten standings. Among the returners is senior defender Lindsey Johnson and sophomore forward Cara Walls. Johnson returns after earning All-Big Ten second-team honors, as well as All-Great Lakes second-team accolades in 2011. Walls started 17 games as a freshman and led the Badgers in points (19) and goals (9) en route to earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team last season.

Wisconsin also returns senior midfielders Joana Bielefeld and Monica Lam-Feist in 2012. Bielefeld started every game last season and is poised for a successful 2012 campaign after tallying four points on two assists and a goal last season, while Lam-Feist has missed only one start over the last three years.

For the Wisconsin women's soccer team, the 2012 season will be somewhat of a rebuilding process, as the Badgers lost Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Michele Dalton to graduation and return only five starters from 2011.

After Wilkins gave eventual conference champ Penn State its one and only loss of the Big Ten slate last season, Wisconsin looked like the team to beat en route to the conference crown. This season the Badgers are poised to regain their stature as one of the most dominant teams in the Big Ten and will look to make a run toward a conference championship and its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years.

Defenders
Johnson (pictured) headlines the center backs, as the All-Big Ten performer will make the move to the middle to complement redshirt-sophomore Alexandra Heller. Johnson and Heller's leadership will be fundamental to the success of the Badger's defenders this season, as a wealth of freshman will compete for playing time at the outside backs position. 

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Wilkins has been intrigued by the energy of the freshman at this stage in camp and looks forward to the progress the newcomers will make throughout the year. The outside back position is a vital part of Wilkins' attacking mentality, so expect the most technical and high-energy newcomer to lead the charge from the outside defender position.

Position Preview: Midfielders

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Position Preview: Defenders | Forwards | Goalkeepers

The Wisconsin women's soccer team enters its 2012 campaign cautiously optimistic, as head coach Paula Wilkins and the Badgers feature a balance of battle-tested veterans and ambitious newcomers.

The Badgers return 15 letter winners from a team that went 10-7-3 last season and finished fourth in the final Big Ten standings. Among the returners is senior defender Lindsey Johnson and sophomore forward Cara Walls. Johnson returns after earning All-Big Ten second-team honors, as well as All-Great Lakes second-team accolades in 2011. Walls started 17 games as a freshman and led the Badgers in points (19) and goals (9) en route to earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team last season.

Wisconsin also returns senior midfielders Joana Bielefeld and Monica Lam-Feist in 2012. Bielefeld started every game last season and is poised for a successful 2012 campaign after tallying four points on two assists and a goal last season, while Lam-Feist has missed only one start over the last three years.

For the Wisconsin women's soccer team, the 2012 season will be somewhat of a rebuilding process, as the Badgers lost Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Michele Dalton to graduation and return only five starters from 2011.

After Wilkins gave eventual conference champ Penn State its one and only loss of the Big Ten slate last season, Wisconsin looked like the team to beat en route to the conference crown. This season the Badgers are poised to regain their stature as one of the most dominant teams in the Big Ten and will look to make a run toward a conference championship and its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years.

Midfielders
A mixture of experience and depth highlight the Badger's midfielders, where Lam-Feist, along with junior Nicole La Petina, redshirt senior Erin Jacobsen and fellow seniors Lindsey Hamann and Joana Bielefeld will all look to lead a talented group of freshman into the 2012 season.

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Lam-Feist (picture) will be asked to complement Walls and Adams, as the senior distributes the ball well in the open-field and has the athleticism that is necessary for the Badgers to attack and get good looks at the goal. Bielefeld will return for her final season in cardinal and white, after earning UW's most improved player award in 2011. The Brookfield native has drawn praises from Wilkins for her solid play in the air and also for her work ethic and attention to detail.

Jacobsen and redshirt sophomore Kodee Williams are two key players who are returning to the Badgers in 2012 after missing last season due to injury. Jacobsen, who Wilkins cited as being the most important player for the Badgers two years ago, will be relied upon to do most of the heavy lifting from the midfield position, as well as chart the development of the incoming freshman who will hopefully be called on to assist in the efforts from that position. Madison native McKenna Meuer has garnered praise from coaches for her work ethic and will likely be called on to make an early impact from the midfield.

Breaking down the Big Ten standings

MADISON, Wis. - With just three games left for each team, the Big Ten women's soccer regular season is nearing its conclusion. The conference tournament returns in 2011 after a two-year hiatus, and with Northwestern earning an automatic bid as the host school, seven spots are available for the remaining 11 schools.

Wisconsin is right in the thick of the race, sitting in fifth place with 12 points and a 3-2-3 Big Ten mark. But as you can see below, the standings are very tight down the homestretch.

Team Record  Pct. Pts. Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Opp. Pts.
Penn St. 7-1-0 .875 21 at Michigan St. at Michigan PURDUE 38
Illinois 5-2-1 .688 16 at Northwestern at Nebraska MICHIGAN 26
Michigan St. 5-3-0 .625 15 PENN ST. OHIO ST. at Northwestern 35
Michigan 4-3-1 .562 13 OHIO ST. PENN ST. at Illinois 47
Wisconsin 3-2-3 .562 12 PURDUE INDIANA IOWA 27
Iowa 3-3-2 .500 11 at Nebraska NORTHWESTERN at Wisconsin 25
Minnesota 3-3-2 .500 11 INDIANA PURDUE NEBRASKA 25
Ohio St. 3-4-1 .438 10 at Michigan at Michigan St. INDIANA 34
Purdue 3-4-1 .438 10 at Wisconsin at Minnesota at Penn State 44
Nebraska 3-5-0 .375 9 IOWA ILLINOIS at Minnesota 38
Indiana 2-6-0 .250 6 at Minnesota at Wisconsin at Ohio State 33
Northwestern 1-6-1 .188 4 ILLINOIS at Iowa MICHIGAN ST. 42


Penn State is in first place with 21 points and enjoys a five-point lead over Illinois. However, the No. 2-10 teams in the conference are separated by just seven points. Three points are awarded for a victory, so there is still a lot of movement possible left.

Next to the team's point totals are their remaining three games. The number figure on the far right is the point total of the three opponents. As you can see, Michigan has the toughest finishing stretch as the Wolverines' final opponents have 47 points between them, though they do get two of those games at home.

Conversely, Iowa and Minnesota could have an advantage as their foes combine for only 25 points each. In addition, the Gophers are aided by the fact that they don't have to leave Minneapolis for the rest of the season.

Wisconsin is also in a favorable position. All three of the Badgers' remaining games are at home, and they have the fourth-easiest schedule as Purdue (10), Indiana (6) and Iowa (11) combine for just 27 points.

The final stretch begins Friday night at McClimon Soccer Complex as the Badgers host Purdue at 7 p.m.

Position Preview: Forwards

In the final installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' forwards.

8/15: Goalkeepers  |  8/16: Defenders  |  8/17: Midfielders

Senior forward Laurie Nosbusch has led the Badgers in scoring in each of her three years on campus after posting seven goals as a freshman, six as a sophomore and 10 as a junior. She's back for her senior year and head coach Paula Wilkins is looking for her to continue that production in 2011.

"Laurie will be a key returner for us," Wilkins said. "She's been the leading scorer the last [three] years and will be a focus for many teams."

With Nosbusch firmly entrenched, Wilkins is turning toward a trio of freshmen to play off the senior. Specifically, Wilkins feels that Wauwatosa East product Cara Walls can provide a good counter.

"I think a good complement to [Laurie] will be Cara Walls," Wilkins explained. "She adds a different dimension that Laurie doesn't have and that's the ability to get behind people with some speed. She has the ability to score goals and they've found a great combination rate already between the two of them this season."

Walls is coming off a strong performance at the US Youth National Championships, where she helped lead FC Milwaukee to the Under-18 title. She scored four goals in the tournament, including two in the championship game, to lead all scorers.

Fellow freshmen Olivia Tehan and Nikki Greenhalgh also are coming off championship seasons and look to carry that momentum to the Badgers' season. Olivia Tehan was teammates with Walls on FC Milwaukee's title-winning team, while Nikki Greenhalgh led her high school team, Novi, to a state championship in Michigan.

"I think they bring great athletic dimension, can put people under pressure and cause problems with their work rate and athleticism," Wilkins said. "They're getting better every day in practice."

Wilkins is also hoping to see the return of Paige Adams, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2009 after scoring three goals and adding three assists. But Adams missed all of the 2010 season due to injury and is still working her way back.

"Paige Adams was hampered with an injury last year and is coming off that right now, but she's a great combination player and I think we can keep the ball in the front half of the field more with her," Wilkins said. "She has a fantastic work rate and has great runs off the ball. She'll be a good complement to Laurie and Cara."

Position Preview: Midfielders

In the third installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' midfielders.


Head coach Paula Wilkins will have no shortage of options when it comes to her midfielders in the 2011 season.

At least eight different players can be relied upon, she explained, including 2010 second-team All-Big Ten honorees Erin Jacobsen and Alev Kelter.

The two excel in different facets of the game. Jacobsen tallied two assists on the year and added standout defense from the midfield position, while Kelter was third on the squad with three goals and eight points.

"Erin has always been a great defender at center-mid for us," Wilkins explained. "She is one of the reasons why we've been successful defensively. She stops a lot of the problems before they even start and has been very good.

"Alev is a physical force in the midfield. She's a returning second-team All-Regional and All-Big Ten player and will be looked upon to score some goals with her head, which is what she's really good at, and be a dominant force in the midfield."

Wilkins is looking at Monica Lam-Feist and Lauren Cochlin to pick up where they left off last season. Lam-Feist scored both goals in the Badgers' season-ending loss to Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished third on the team with three goals and was fourth with seven points. Cochlin added a goal and assist to finish the year with three points and will look to use her speed in 2011.

"Monica has really good vision and is a good distributor of the ball in the midfield," Wilkins said. "She's able to connect a lot of parts and is dangerous in the front half of the field. Scoring the last two goals of the season against Marquette, she's coming on stronger and stronger offensively.

"At the very end of the season last year Lauren really came on strong and she had a great summer preparing. Her speed is unmatched on the team and a lot in the Big Ten. She'll be looked upon to create some problems getting behind people."

Leigh Williams and Lindsey Hamann are two midfielders who are looking to come back from ailments and Wilkins believes both will be factors.

"Leigh Williams, after getting mononucleosis and not being able to play in the NCAAs against Marquette, I think is going to come back with a vengeance her senior year," Wilkins said. "She adds a scrappy mentality that we need out there, but she's also a great attacking threat and has a great work rate.

"Lindsey Hamann has been battling injuries the last few years but we're expecting her to play a role in the midfield. She brings a good combining ability just like Julia [Roddar] and she'll be experienced in that way."

A pair of freshmen will also be looked upon to bolster the midfield play in Julia Roddar and Krissy Many. Roddar becomes the first Badger to hail from Sweden after she saw time with the Swedish National Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 teams. Many helped Naperville Central in Illinois to three conference and regional titles.

"Julia brings some international experience with the Swedish national team," Wilkins said. "She's a very good technical player who can connect passes and will create good combination play in the front half of the field. She has a good engine and good work rate and I'm excited to see her.

"Krissy Many is just a really good physical presence in terms of what she can do. She's very good in the air, almost equal to Alev, and I think that element will be something we need."

With proven commodities, players looking to build on late season success, players looking to bounce back from injuries and players looking to make a name for themselves, things are looking bright for the midfielders in 2011.

Position Preview: Defenders

In the second installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' defenders.


The Badgers return the core of their defensive unit that was the stingiest in all of the Big Ten last season.

For the season, the Badgers led the league by yielding just 11 goals overall and 0.52 goals per game. The squad also posted 12 shutouts on the year to tie for the conference lead.

In addition, including overtime periods, the Badgers did not give up a goal in span that lasted nearly 930 minutes last season from Sept. 5 to Oct. 15. This snapped the previous record set by the 1985 team for most minutes without allowing a goal.

Head coach Paula Wilkins is relying on veteran leadership in 2011 to produce similar results, starting with senior Meghan Flannery, who was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season.

"We have Meghan Flannery returning who is an All-Big Ten player and will anchor the back," Wilkins said. "She's been great in the transition from midfielder to outside-back to center-back. She's a good leader and has good field vision."

Also part of the defensive unit are juniors Lindsey Johnson and Joana Bielefeld and sophomore Catie Sessions. Johnson, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2009, started all 20 games a year ago, while Bielefeld played in 14 contests after transferring in from Ohio University. Sessions played in 19 games and, like Johnson, earned a spot on the All-Freshman squad.

"Lindsey Johnson and Catie Sessions were both All-Big Ten freshmen at one point. They're great attacking defenders with great mentality to get forward," Wilkins added. "They'll be generating a lot of our offense there.

"Joana Bielefeld has had experience there. She'll play essentially in the back or outside wide. She had great experience in the spring coming from Ohio University."

A pair of youngsters also could play prominently in the defense, including a member of the Badgers' freshman class.

"Lauren Reid is a young freshman who has come in and shown promise," Wilkins said. "Being able to play off the left side, she's very technical and has a really good engine. I think she's going to be another good attacking back in the style that we like to play with.

"Ali Heller, who is coming back slowly from injury, will probably play a role in one of those spots as the season wears on. We're hoping to get her back in the mix very quickly."

With these pieces in place, the defensive unit looks to be a definite strength going into the new season.

Position Preview: Goalkeepers

In the first installment of a four-part series previewing the Wisconsin women's soccer team's roster, head coach Paula Wilkins breaks down the Badgers' goalkeepers.

Wisconsin returns all four goalkeepers from last season's roster that put forth one of the finest defensive seasons in school history.

The Badgers allowed only 11 goals in 20 games which is the fewest for the program since women's soccer became a sport in the Big Ten Conference in 1994. The team was even better in conference play, yielding just three goals to establish another program best.

From Sept. 10-Oct. 10, the Badgers held nine straight opponents without a goal, matching the 1985 squad for the longest shutout streak in school history.

Then a junior, Michele Dalton posted eight shutouts in the nine-game stretch and finished the year with 11 clean sheets, the fourth-best number in school history and the most since 1989. Dalton was named second-team All-Big Ten for the season and head coach Paula Wilkins is counting on her again in 2011.

"Obviously [Michele] had a great season last year and her return will give us some stability and some experience in there," Wilkins said. "She'll be looked upon again to manage the game well and we'll need her to make some big saves to keep us in the game like she did last year."

Joining Dalton are fellow senior Lauren Gunderson, junior Olivia Hoff and sophomore Genevieve Richard.

Gunderson started both games she played in last year, including a clean sheet against South Dakota State on Sept. 10.

Neither Hoff nor Richard has seen time in net for the Badgers, but have gained valuable experience throughout their careers.

Hoff won two state championships with FC Milwaukee in 2007 and 2009 and Richard gained experience on the international level representing Canada at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand in 2010.

"Genevieve Richard comes with great experience playing in the U-17 World Cup which obviously makes the environment for the starting position competitive," Wilkins said. "Olivia Hoff has gotten better and better every spring, while Lauren Gunderson brings great experience and has gotten opportunities in the past.

"I think it's one of the most experienced goalkeeping crews that we've had in my five years here."


Badger freshmen lead club team to national title

In their final weekend before reporting to training camp for the University of Wisconsin women's soccer team's 2011 season, three incoming freshmen led their squad to a national title at the US Youth National Championships.

Cara Walls, Olivia Tehan and Carly Vogel capped off their summers by lifting FC Milwaukee to the U18 title, the first national championship for a team from Wisconsin, boys or girls.

After dropping the first game of the preliminary round to Colorado Rush Nike, Walls' goal in the 76th minute lifted her team to a 1-0 victory over Team Boca (Fla.).

Entering the final game of preliminary play, FC Milwaukee was tied with FC Stars of Massachusetts at 1-1-0 and each had a goal differential of zero. A win was needed to reach the finals and again Wells came through in the clutch. Her goal in the 13th minute would be all her squad would need as it cruised to a 3-0 win and a rematch against Colorado Rush Nike.

Walls was once again the star in the title game. After 90 minutes of play resulted in a 1-1 tie, the Wauwatosa, Wis., native scored in both the 95th and 96th minutes to lead FC Milwaukee to a 4-2 win. Her four goals in the tournament led all scorers.

Wisconsin sophomore Catie Sessions also reached the national championships with her team, Woodbury Inferno. Competing in the U19 division, Sessions and the Inferno went 1-2 in preliminary play and failed to reach the finals.
WSCR_110711_Wilkins_Paula.jpgWatching Ali Krieger line up the penalty kick that could seal Team USA's improbable win over Brazil on Sunday, UW women's soccer coach Paula Wilkins was convinced that Krieger was ready for the moment.

Wilkins, after all, had coached Krieger at Penn State.

"I was confident,'' Wilkins said, "because I know Ali is always confident.''

When Krieger's kick landed in the netting, it capped one of the most dramatic comebacks in U.S. soccer history as the Americans overcame controversy and adversity to advance in the World Cup.

"It showed their resiliency,'' Wilkins said.

Despite playing shorthanded after losing Rachel Buehler to a red card, Team USA persevered and tied the match on Abby Wambach's header in the 122nd minute of the marathon quarterfinal.

"When the ball was hit, I thought it was a little desperate with what they were trying to do,'' Wilkins said of Megan Rapinoe's crossing pass from the left wing that Wambach converted in the box.

"But it was spot-on with what they needed.''

Wilkins watched the final minutes and penalty kicks Sunday with a bunch of young players, ages 12-17, who were attending the Girls Soccer Academy on the UW campus.

"You should have heard the roar,'' Wilkins said of their spontaneous reaction to the spellbinding finish. "The way it happened might create more excitement for women's soccer.''

Team USA will advance to the semifinals to play France.

"The challenging part right now -- with how it ended and the emotion running so high -- is getting grounded again,'' she said. "It was fantastic but they need to get their legs back under them.''

Wilkins has all the confidence in the world that Team USA coach Pia Sundhage will have her players focused for their next challenge. "Pia will prepare them to do that,'' she said.

Preparation is at the core of Krieger's game, too, Wilkins acknowledged.

"She was one of the mainstays of our Penn State program,'' she said of Krieger, a two-time All-American with the Nittany Lions. "When you put in all that work you know it's going to pay off.''

Krieger's resiliency mirrors that of her teammates; even more so, in fact.

"She has an amazing story,'' Wilkins allowed.

Krieger's junior season at Penn State ended short of the NCAA tournament when she broke her leg during practice. A metal plate was inserted to stabilize the injury.

A few months later, she was battling for her life; the result of blood clots that had developed in her lungs and caused a pulmonary embolism. Immediate recognition and treatment saved her.

Although the recovery process sidelined her for six months, Krieger returned to play her senior year for Wilkins. The Nittany Lions won four straight Big Ten championships during Krieger's career.

Wilkins admitted to experiencing some tenseness while Krieger was getting ready for that PK against Brazil. "It's like any mother would feel -- you're a little anxious for them,'' she said.

But that anxiety soon morphed into exhilaration. "As a team,'' Wilkins said, "they showed their emotional courage to get through it and that has to build their confidence.''

ON WISCONSIN