ND Women’s Soccer
Women’s soccer looks to make strong stand against Wisconsin, Marquette in upcoming road contests
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, August 26, 2021
This week marks a big opportunity for Notre Dame women’s soccer, as the Irish travel north to Wisconsin for a pair of games against the University of Wisconsin and Marquette. These out of conference matches, which will be the Irish’s first road contests of the season, are essential as Notre Dame looks to build a competitive resume to be selected for the NCAA tournament later this fall.
The first team standing in their way of an undefeated road stand are the Wisconsin Badgers. Coming off a 7-4-3 season that saw the Badgers miss national tournament play as one of the last teams on the bubble, Wisconsin brings back plenty of talent and experience to Madison, with coach Paula Wilkins setting up a side that looks to be one of the best in the Big Ten.
In net is Wisconsin’s star player, goalie Jordyn Bloomer. The reigning champion of the 2019 and 2020 B1G Goalkeeper of the Year awards, Bloomer is as consistent as they come in the college game. Rarely ever making mistakes or shipping easy goals, the Hartland, Wisconsin, native also offers ample ability in one-on-one situations. It will be no easy task for the Irish, who scored three times against Bowling Green but couldn’t find the back of the net against Indiana, to get on the board Thursday.
In front of Bloomer is a Badger XI that hasn’t seen much change from last season. Though last spring’s preferred centerbacks Claire Shea and Sammy Kleedtke have left the team, Wisconsin will be capable of defending as a unit despite personnel losses. The Badgers’ attack in 2020 was spearheaded by attacking midfielders Emma Jaskaniec and Lauren Rice, who have wasted no time finding their marks this fall with five and three points, respectively.
To beat such a defensively solid Badger unit, the Notre Dame attack will need to find the second gear that it lacked against Indiana. Coach Nate Norman rotated his front line extensively in the heat last week; but no matter the combination of attackers, senior forward Olivia Wingate was at the center of the action. Wingate and junior attackers Kati Druzina and Kiki Van Zanten will need to be in top form combining in build up and getting shots off.
The second team Notre Dame will face in their road stint, Marquette, should likely be the easier of the two games. The Golden Eagles failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament out of the Big East in 2020, and just barely escaped their first game of the season against Central Michigan. They will be more rested than the Irish, however, as the Golden Eagles will come into the Sunday clash having not played since last week, while Notre Dame will only have three days of recovery time.
Against Marquette, Notre Dame’s defense will face one of their harder tests of the early season. Marquette lit up Central Michigan for four goals in their 4-3 opener, and will no doubt be looking to continue their hot form on Sunday. Graduate student and Purdue transfer Julia Ware has been vital in taking the Irish defense to the next level this fall; another major game out of Ware will be needed to keep the Golden Eagles at bay. Joining Ware in the backline will be senior Brianna Martinez, a year four starter who offers plenty of experience against some of the nation’s best collegiate attackers. Notre Dame didn’t allow Indiana a single shot on target last week, and they’ll hope to repeat such an impressive defensive display twice more this week.
Watch the Fighting Irish take on Wisconsin in Madison Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on BTN+, and then Marquette in Milwaukee at 1 p.m. on flofc.com.