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Wisconsin women’s soccer: coach Paula Wilkins holds first press conference of the season

The Badgers are fired up to tackle a schedule unlike any other in the program’s history

@BadgerWSoccer; UW Athletics Communications

On Wednesday, Wisconsin women’s soccer head coach Paula Wilkins held her first press conference of 2021 to discuss the upcoming season and their first game, against Iowa, this Saturday:

Coach Wilkins opened by expressing her gratitude that games are able to be played, even on an adjusted schedule:

“I think what every coach is saying right now is we’re just thrilled to have a game on Saturday. I’d personally like to thank the medical staff, the support staff, and the administration here at Wisconsin for working to make all of this happen. I think we’ve found a really good plan, and I know the players, myself, and my staff are thrilled to be back on the field and against some great competition with the Big Ten.”

Wilkins also spoke to how the atmosphere was around the program in general about the start of the season:

“We’ve had conversations with the players- it’s so different and so shortened in the environment and how we’ve had preseason everything like that- but we came down to three things: we can still win a Big 10 championship, we can still win the Big 10 tournament, and we can still get into the NCAA tournament and win the NCAA tournament. So it’s amazing because we’re six days away, and, as of right now, even with all the challenges we’ve had there’s three different things that we can play for. We have some amazing talent returning- Maia [Cella], Cameron Murtha, Jordyn Bloomer, Claire Shea, and I can keep going down that list. And we have some young talent coming that we’re really excited about. So, it’s different, but it’s exciting.”

Entering season No. 14 leading the Badgers, Wilkins talked about how the team has adjusted their preparation for a season unlike any prior:

“One of the challenges we’ve had here is our facility isn’t the size of a soccer field. So we’ve had to do some extra running, some different things to modify and prepare ourselves for playing on a bigger field. Turf plays a little bit differently than grass, but we were training on it. So when we talk to the team about all these different challenges, we say the other teams in the Big Ten are facing the same ones. I think Iowa will be training inside, they’ve been having the same cold snap as us too. I think we’re all facing the same challenges, so the teams that are more prepared, that are focused on the little details, will be successful. And that’s what we’ve been hanging our hat on.”

Closing with some remarks on the incoming freshman class, Wilkins mentioned that she’s very excited about a strong group whose enthusiastic and lengthy preparation has only made it stronger:

“I think the exciting part about [this class] is that when we usually have freshmen come in, they have about 14 days until they play their first game, and now we’ve had them a bit longer. And I have to tell you, I am very pleased with their development over the last couple months- they’ve really bought into understanding our system, and understanding our culture. The group of them, the eight of them, they love soccer. You see them staying afterwards, they play on their off time, and I think that’s an exciting thing for me to see as a coach in itself. They’re watching film constantly to know how to get better. They’re impacting our program even in training because of the level they bring. I think we’ll possibly be starting two freshmen this Saturday, and I’m excited for that, to see what they can do, and having said that there are other ones that are following close behind who could possibly get some good playing time.”

The Badgers will open their 2021 campaign at 6:30 p.m. CST on Saturday against the Iowa Hawkeyes indoors at the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Complex in Illinois.