first_imgSenior forward Laurie Nosbusch leads a Wisconsin offense that has scored five goals over the past two road games. That offense will meet a Northern Illinois team that has allowed 13 goals over their first five games.[/media-credit]Two down, two to go.The past three days have served as halftime for the Wisconsin women’s soccer team’s four-game road trip. The schedule started off last Friday at Dayton and at Cincinnati on Sunday, and the Badgers were able to return home with two victories, 3-1 and 2-1 respectively.Now UW (4-1) hits the road for two more games against Northern Illinois on Thursday and at UW-Milwaukee on Sunday.Northern Illinois (0-4-1) has the potential to be an early-season trap game for the Badgers, if taken lightly. The Huskies have been outscored 13-1 in five games this season, despite outshooting their opponents 55-53 in those games.“We have to limit their ability to get shots. They are good on set pieces and have some people that can be dangerous,” Badgers head coach Paula Wilkins said.In order to slow the NIU attack and make the Huskies continue to come away empty handed, Wilkins said the Badgers have to pressure the ball in order to prevent easy entry passes.Senior goalkeeper Michele Dalton also feels like there is a lot she can do to ensure a Badgers victory after judging her performances over the past week.“I go into every game, against every opponent with the same mentality,” Dalton says. “Perfection is kind of my motto. Lately we have given up some goals that I definitely regret still. I feel like I personally have some work to do, organizing and communicating, making sure those things are effective.”A lot of Wisconsin’s recent success has had to do with senior forward Laurie Nosbusch, who has scored a goal in back-to-back games, ending a small cold spell during the first three games of the season.“We have been attacking with numbers and been willing to fight through defenders,” Nosbusch said. “We aren’t giving up on anything and not taking it for granted that we are going to get another chance. Anytime there is a half-chance we are going for it, with everything we have.”And Nosbusch already smells NIU’s blood in the water, so to speak.“We have to stay focused on playing at our highest level and coming out strong to try to set a tone for the rest of the game, so that maybe if we put a few (goals) in early we won’t give them any hope for getting a cheap goal off of us,” she said.That is exactly what Wilkins wants to hear, but she still made sure to make Badger players aware as to how much weight an early season game versus a struggling opponent can mean after practice Wednesday.“It’s a big NCAA game for us. If we don’t get a result it will probably hurt us significantly, so we need to understand that and just go after them,” Dalton said.The future of the Badgers’ season and the success they have will hinge on whether Wisconsin can maintain the level of game-by-game improvement that Wilkins has already seen since the Badgers’ season opener versus defending national champion Notre Dame.“The one thing that we have had inconsistencies with is our physical effort, and I think we are getting closer and closer to being better with that,” Wilkins said. “If [the Badgers] want to make the NCAAs, then this is a game that they have to come out and put their best foot forward to be successful. We talk about bettering our performance every game, and this is another game for us to (do that). Focusing on the performance rather than the outcome is going to be important for us.”While all of the little things seem to be adding up and earning the Badgers victories, conventional wisdom would suggest that four straight road games would begin to wear on the team at some point and cause Wisconsin to stumble, but not according to Dalton.“Honestly, I prefer being on the road because I think as a team we are a lot more focused,” she said. “Last year it felt like all of our games were on the road, and we found success in that. [We] keep the travel squad smaller, and I think everyone is traveling for a purpose and that purpose is to win.”“When you are at home there are other distractions, family, friends, social things going on on campus. You have a lot more freedom, but when we are on the road it is a lot more professional. I prefer that environment. I think we are the most successful in that environment.”last_img

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