Things are different this time around for the UW women’s soccer team. Gone are the frigid practices and night games; gone are the emotional highs and lows the team went through last season; and gone are six pivotal seniors who helped carry the team through those highs and lows.Now the Badgers are nearing the end of their spring season, and they have enjoyed seeing some new starting roles.”Spring practice has been great; we have really accomplished a lot of things we set out to,” UW head coach Dean Duerst said. “We have gotten a really good look at some of the newer personnel. … We have been trying some new spots midfield and up front and trying to bring those spots together.”So far the Badgers have competed in five spring matches. Recently, Wisconsin competed in the Chicago SCORES Showcase, a fundraiser for the Chicago SCORES organization, which provides supplemental English/reading skills for inner-city children while also teaching them teamwork through soccer.At the Showcase, the Badgers played two matches, falling 1-0 to Northwestern and tying Illinois 1-1.”It was a great event for our players to be a part of,” Duerst said. “It felt like a regular Big Ten weekend. We were able to let some of the younger players get a taste of what a Big Ten game is like.”We always want positive results, but we were happy with how we played.”Last weekend, Wisconsin also competed in an alumni match, which featured former UW seniors Marisa Brown, Erin Dubina, Becky Katsma, Katy Lindenmuth, Jessica Ring and Amy Vermeulen.”It was really fun for [the seniors],” Duerst said. “We’ve had a great span of people, and we had some really great people return. We had some players return with kids and one who couldn’t play because she was [pregnant]. So, it was kind of neat that way. The alums played some great soccer and really challenged the team. I take a lot of pride that a lot of those players played under me.”Up next for Wisconsin is in-state rival UW-Green Bay. The last time both schools met was a pivotal match for UW. Heading into the late October game, Wisconsin was in a downhill spiral after losing six of its last seven matches. A quick spin-around and a 6-1 victory helped the Badgers gain momentum and finish out the season with a perfect 4-0 record, enabling them to qualify for the Big Ten tournament.”That game turned us around,” Duerst said. “We had been through a lot, and we finally told ourselves that we were going to win, and by doing that it helped us win. … Teams need to get into that zone. That game also helped us defensively.”In that contest, Kara Kabellis, who was recently named a captain for next fall’s squad, led the Badgers with two goals, while current teammates Elise Weber and Lauren Rudzinski also notched a score between the pipes.The only goal from UW-Green Bay came from graduated senior Natalie Brown. Her goal at the time put the Phoenix up 1-0, which was the first time the team ever led against the Badgers.This year, the Phoenix are scheduled to kick off their spring season against the Badgers, who will be ending their own spring schedule.”They work hard, and they are physical and can really ignite around the goal,” Duerst said. “It will be another test for us defensively.”The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the McClimon Soccer Complex Thursday. It’s a rare occasion when the Badgers get to host a night game, and the team is looking forward to playing under the lights.”Night games are just one of those things that players enjoy,” Duerst said. “We are going to make the atmosphere and … we want to go out on a note of establishing a new team. We have to identify ourselves and do things differently that make us a new team. … This has been a special year, and we want to make it different.”
Brazil assistant manager Carlos Alberto Parreira has hinted that Ronaldinho is unlikely to be selected for this summer’s World Cup.The 34 year-old was instrumental as Atlético Mineiro won the Copa Libertadores last season and earned a recall to the Seleção for last year’s friendly with Chile as a result.Despite his good club form, however, Ronaldinho was overlooked for the Confederations Cup, with Parreira now suggesting that there is a doubt over the forward’s desire and ability to perform at the highest level.“It isn’t that he has lost his focus, he just hasn’t been able to continue his career in the way that is needed to play with the Seleção with complete and total dedication,” he said, as reported by NDTV Sports.