Maryland women’s soccer was under three minutes away from pulling off a shocking draw against No. 4 Rutgers — a team that had won nine of its first 10 games — last Sunday.
Senior midfielder Sara Brocious ended Maryland’s dreams with an 88th-minute dagger, and the Terps ultimately fell, 1-0, bringing their overall record to 2-3-5.
Now, the Terps are below .500 for the first time and head off to Madison to play the No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday at 8 p.m.
With a 1-2 record in Big Ten play, Maryland now finds itself in the middle of an incredibly difficult stretch, having to play Michigan State at home on Sunday and then take on No. 6 Penn State.
Thursday night’s game can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
Wisconsin Badgers (8-1-2)
2021 record: 10-6-6 (3-3-4 Big Ten)
The Badgers are are consistently one of the conference’s premier teams and are off to a familiar start this season.
With a 3-0 start to conference play, No. 23 Wisconsin is looking to rattle off yet another deep NCAA Tournament run. The Badgers have advanced to the Sweet 16 in three of the past four seasons, and their 8-1-2 record through 11 games is their best start since 2017.
Wisconsin also returned its top three goal scorers from last season, and its 25 goals so far rank among the top 30 in the nation.
The Badgers have been shut out just once this season, with that result being a 0-0 draw to a ranked TCU team in their first game of the season.
Led by head coach Paula Wilkins — a six-time Big Ten coach of the year — the Badgers look primed to compete for a Big Ten title.
Players to know
Emma Jaskaniec, senior forward, No. 2 — Jaskaniec led all Badgers with nine goals last season and has already matched that total this year. She’s scored in her past eight games, seven of which Wisconsin won. She’ll look to extend her historic streak Sunday.
Aidan McConnell, junior defender, No. 3 — McConnell is the backbone of this squad, leading the defense to six clean sheets. Starting in each game and logging 90 minutes in all but three, she anchors a defense that has continued to hold steady. Her play earned her early-season recognition as Big Ten Defender of the Week.
Natalie Viggiano, graduate midfielder, No. 13 — The fifth-year midfielder leads Wisconsin on and off the field, and she’s heating up on the attacking end of recent. She has three goals and one assist in Big Ten play, which is more resemblant of her form last year in which she registered five goals and eight assists.
Home-field advantage. At 8-1-2 this season, Wisconsin has taken its last four games on home turf. That’s a common theme too, as it is 17-4-5 in Madison over the past three seasons. The Terps will need to put forth a dominant display to keep the Badgers from running up the score.
Relying on rallies. The Badgers have been doing a lot of their damage in the second half, scoring nine of their goals in the past four games in second-half surges. The Terps have been steady defensively all season, but they have shown cracks in recent second halves. The Badgers’ late explosiveness might not match up well for the Terps.
Three things to watch
1. Wisconsin is in the midst of a six-game winning streak. Not much has been able to stop the Badgers lately, as they have cruised to six straight victories after their lone loss of the year against Notre Dame. In the six games, they’ve outscored their opposition, 16-5. The past three wins have come against Big Ten opponents, so strength of schedule is no excuse.
2. Can Maryland bounce back from heartbreak? The Terps held a 1-0 second-half lead against Illinois last week before faltering late and losing, 3-2. They followed that up by taking No. 4 Rutgers to the 88th minute scoreless, but their incredible effort was washed away by a goal in the waning moments. Will the Terps learn from and build on these crushing defeats, or will they let them become their identity?
3. What lineup changes could we see? Head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer jumbled the starting 11 against Rutgers, benching senior goalkeeper Madeline Smith in favor of graduate transfer Emory Wegener. Junior midfielder Juliana Lynch also found her way back into the starting lineup after a three-game absence. It would not be surprising to see Smith step back in between the posts.