WHO: Maryland Terrapins @ Wisconsin Badgers
WHAT: Women's soccer B1G Conference game
WHERE: McClimon Soccer Complex, Madison, WI
WHEN: Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm
WATCH: In person
The Minnesota Golden Gophers ended Maryland's five game Big Ten unbeaten streak Friday night. The 1-0 win handed the Terrapins their seventh shutout of the season and third in the last five games. The Terps must feel a growing sense of urgency as they look at the two regular season games remaining on their schedule on the road against the top two teams in the conference.
Their inability to convert chances into goals has created a season of missed opportunities for Maryland. In their games against the six teams at the bottom of the conference standings - four of which were in College Park - the Terps scored only six goals and managed a record of 1-1-4. Of the six goals, three came in their loss at Nebraska. Sunday, Maryland plays at Wisconsin - the league's most dominant and stifling defensive squad.
Badgers on the pitch
The Badgers started fast in 2013 losing only two of their first twelve games while compiling an 8-2-2 record over that stretch. Their season then took a decidedly downward trajectory when they lost five of their final seven games to finish 10-7-2 overall and 5-5-1 in Big Ten play. That stretch included a season ending loss to Penn State in the first round of the B1G Tournament.
While the Terps are coming off another shutout loss, the Badgers have won three straight and are coming off a shutout of their own - a win over Rutgers Friday night. With an overall record of 14-2-1 and 8-2-1 in the conference, they are showing no signs of fading as they did in the 2013 campaign.
Only Penn State, who handed Wisconsin their last loss, and Michigan have scored more than one goal in a game against the Badgers this season. Defensively, they lead the conference with 12 shutouts and have conceded only seven goals in 17 games thus far.
But Wisconsin is not a one dimensional, scoring challenged team that packs their defense and looks to counter attack. They average 2.06 goals per game second best in the B1G behind only Penn State and they have been shutout only twice on the season.
Players to watch
Kinley McNicoll, #13, Junior, midfielder. McNicoll is Wisconsin's most well rounded offensive threat. She has scored eight goals and handed out seven assists thus far this season. Her 23 points make her the leading scorer for another high powered and balanced attack that features six players who have scored at least two goals and is second in goals in the conference. Her goal and assist totals are both second on the team.
Cara Walls, #15, senior, forward. Walls leads the Badgers in goals with 11 despite having missed four games this season. She has been a solid and consistent goal scorer throughout her career at Wisconsin. Coming into the season she had scored 28 goals. Her 39 career goals place her third all-time in the history of the program.
Genevieve Richard, #24 redshirt senior, goalkeeper. Wisconsin has a solid defensive unit that allows barely nine shots per game. However, on those occasions when shots do penetrate their defensive wall, Richard has provided a nearly impenetrable last line of defense. Richard leads the Big Ten in both goals against average allowing a barely visible 0.43 goals per game and in save percentage at .894.
No more clever remarks just a plain statement that as has been the case with most other conference opponents, Sunday's match will be the first meeting between the two teams.
Once again, a single goal by the opposition stood between the Terps and a point or more in the standings in Maryland's 1-0 loss at Minnesota Friday night. The Terrapins have played more than respectable defense all season but their scoring struggles have created a situation where both the defense and the Terps' ability to control the ball is under added pressure. One lapse, such as the one that occurred in the 84th minute Friday, can quickly turn a point scoring opportunity into a loss.
Sunday's contest against the Big Ten's best defensive team is not one that shapes up as a favorable match-up for Maryland. The Terps have scored only six goals on the road thus far this season and three of those came in their overtime loss at Nebraska. Maryland is looking look to avoid back to back shutouts for the first time since September.