Following an overtime victory against Morehead State on Thursday evening, the Kentucky women’s soccer team returned to The Bell on Sunday for a match against Wisconsin, their first power conference foe of the young season.
The result was the first loss of the year for the Wildcats, as the Badgers would use a more than twenty-minute edge in possession to win 3-1.
Very aggressive early on, the Badgers had numerous chances in the beginning of the game. A scoring opportunity in the third minute was shut down by Wildcats goalie Hannah Leonard, who made a save to keep the contest scoreless. Leonard then made a great save in the 11th minute off a shot from Wisconsin’s Lauren Rice, jumping in the air and deflecting it over the crossbar.
Shortly after, the Badgers were able to push through. Cameron Murtha notched her first goal of the season off an assist from Alexis Tye, finding the back left of the net from the right post in the 13th minute.
Murtha wasn’t done, assisting on Victoria Pickett’s first goal of the year in the 27th minute. The volley made it 2-0 Wisconsin, and that’s where it would stand at the half.
Kentucky had a couple chances in the first half, both negated by Badgers goalie Jordyn Bloomer. Bloomer made a tough save on Abby Steiner’s shot when she broke through the Wisconsin defense in the 22nd minute, and another in the 39th minute on a shot from Hollie Olding.
The Badgers found the back of the net a third time in the 70th minute off the foot of Lauren Rice, who raced in after her corner to put in the rebound.
Less than a minute later, the Wildcats would get on the board. Steiner finished off a crosser from Emma Shields, making it 3-1 late in the 72nd minute.
The goal marked Steiner’s first of the season, and first of her collegiate career.
“Its been something I’ve kinda been dreaming about… so it’s really special,” the freshman forward said after the match. “I have family here and people that came to see me, so it’s just a really special game for me to be able to get that.”
What can the team improve on to get back on the winning path? Steiner offered a couple keys.
“Just keeping our composure in the box and working together, communicating” she replied. “We’re a young team still learning each other’s tendencies and working with each other, so we just need to grow with each other, move on from there and regroup.”
Wisconsin improved to 2-1 this season, while Kentucky fell to 3-1. Next up for the Badgers is a road date with the Washington Huskies. The Wildcats head to Louisville on Friday to face the rival Cardinals. The match is scheduled for 5:30 Eastern time, and can be seen on ACC Network Extra.