The Wisconsin women’s soccer team returned to the McClimon Center this past weekend and put forth a mixed performance, drumming Loyola-Chicago 4-1 Friday before dropping the second match of the homestand 1-0 to Illinois State Sunday.The 3-3 team now hits the road for two consecutive weekends, starting the first series with a trip to UW-Milwaukee Friday and Kentucky Sunday.Game 1: vs. UW-Milwaukee (2-2), Friday at 6 p.m. In many aspects, the Panthers and the Badgers actually have a lot in common. They’re both from Wisconsin, currently stand at .500 and have trouble scoring goals on a consistent basis. But both play solid defense and have already lost to Illinois State this season. The last matchup between the two sides was in 2013, when Wisconsin topped Milwaukee 3-0 in Madison.Wisconsin’s key to victory: Finishing on 0ffenseThere’s no such thing as “brownie points” in sports, especially in a game like soccer. Even if a team puts up 17 shots against an opposing defense – like the Badgers did against Illinois State Sunday – there’s no guarantee any of them will find the net.If there is such a thing as an encouraging loss, however, then Wisconsin certainly had one. While getting shutout was frustrating for the team, they still put forward a high-powered attack with far more scoring opportunities than the opposition.Look for a bounce-back game from junior midfielder Rose Lavelle this Friday in Milwaukee. She’s netted a goal in four of the team’s six games this season and hasn’t gone scoreless in back-to-back contests yet.Opposing player to watch: Milwaukee goalkeeper Paige LincicumWith the Panthers offense struggling to score goals, the sophomore goalkeeper has been heavily relied on to win games this season. So far, Lincicum has held up her end, posting two shutouts and saving over 83 percent of the shots against her. Going up against a frustrated Wisconsin offense, Lincicum’s ability to keep the Panthers in the game late could be the deciding factor Friday.Game 2: at Kentucky (5-1), Sunday at 2 p.m.Sunday’s matchup showcases two programs currently heading in different directions early in the season. While the Wildcats have won four straight matches and look like contenders in the SEC, the Badgers have quickly stumbled out of the top 25 and are looking to get back to their winning ways.Wisconsin’s Key to Victory: Minimizing TurnoversKentucky boasts a loaded offensive lineup with four different players already scoring multiple goals this season. Combine that with a Badgers unit that has struggled with turnovers this season, and a perfect storm could be in the making.The senior-studded Wisconsin backline has been reliable all season, but if some of the less-experienced forwards struggle with possession up top, the defense could get caught out of position during a Kentucky counterattack.Opposing player to watch: Kentucky midfielder Katy KeenThe reigning SEC player of the week has stepped up in her second season to become a focal point in the Wildcats’ offense. Katy Keen was the hero for Kentucky last Friday in their matchup against archrival Louisville, scoring the game-winning goal in the second half of a 1-0 contest. The midfielder then followed up her performance with another strong showing against Ohio last Sunday, tacking on an assist in the 3-0 Wildcat victory.
Meanwhile Gold Cup champion Coneygree is out for the rest of the season through injury.It’s not thought to be a career-threatening problem – but will rule out a defence of that title at Cheltenham in March. Today’s 8 race card was called off after an early morning inspection found water logging on parts of the course.The meeting had already been postponed earlier this month due to the weather.Marketing manager at Powerstown Park Eugene Cooney says they are hoping to improve drainage on parts of the course in the coming years.