In what’s quickly emerging as a common theme in Badger matches, Emma Jaskaniec got the match going early, finding the back of the net with just 15 minutes gone, making this the third game of four in which the sophomore from Menomonee Falls has registered a goal or assist in the opening minutes.
The scoreline wasn’t the only thing unchanged from Wisconsin’s triumph over title contention rival Michigan. The same lineup took the pitch for the Badgers in their return to MercyHealth SportsPlex as well.
At the back Claire Shea and Macy Monticello anchored the unit, as they continue to build off their strong 2019 campaign in defense. They were joined by (relative) newcomers to the lineup Halle Fiedler and Gabrielle Green, both of whom made their first starts on Monday against Michigan. Though facing a somewhat less difficult task than shutting down a Wolverine offense powered by Canadian international Sarah Stratigakis, the defense and Big Ten goalie of the year contender Jordyn Bloomer once again proved rock solid against the Illini, keeping their second consecutive clean sheet.
The midfield put in a strong performance as well in Loves Park, once again proving vital to the Badgers success. Maia Cella showed why she’s on the Mac Hermann Player of the Year watchlist, setting up Jaskaniec’s goal and creating several other chances throughout the match. Sophia Romine continued her strong run of games since the start of the season, as the only freshman to have started every match so far provided an energetic and versatile performance.
One interesting addition to the group was Isabelle Verdugo, who was pushed from her initial role in the first games as a fullback into the midfield, with the aforementioned Green now occupying her spot in defense. She provided a good compliment to Cella and Romine, injecting further pace and defensive stability as the deepest lying member of the unit.
The attacking core for the Badgers remained the most consistent group on the team. Wilkin’s trio of Claire Odmark, Emma Jaskaniec, and Cameron Murtha play both directly and effectively, more often than not driving at defenders head on. Once again against the Illini they were rewarded for their efforts, as Jaskaniec put the team ahead for good in the fifteenth minute.
With the win Wisconsin moves to 3-1 on the year, while Illinois drops to 2-2. The Badgers will look to extend their winning streak and continue to fight for the Big Ten title on Monday when they return to MercyHealth to take on Purdue.