"Well, we're obviously extremely excited at the kind of momentum we've built. The last, you know, seven games in a row we've won, last 10 games we're 9 and 1. And right now we're scoring goals. That's the secret of our game. And we've had two more goals than our opponents have had, so we've scored 46 to their 20, and it's just something that, we've got some kids that are doing the business for us.
"Amy Vermeulen has really come into her own as a conference player. She's second in the conference with 33 points. And right behind her is Katy Lindenmuth, who was just named Big Ten Conference Player of the Week a week ago. And those two guys are doing it on a consistent basis, but we've got a few other players, in particular we've had like 10 different players scoring for us in the last seven games. And that's a show that we're getting goals from many sources, which you want to be able to do.
"Kabellis and Vermeulen are truly two players that have extraordinary abilities. One is Kabellis' head. She's about a 5-10 player that just wins a lot of head balls for you on a daily basis. That's something in our conference that is very vital, is that you've got to be good in the air. And when Vermeulen can serve a ball from the corner kick and Kabellis can head it in or put it in the area, Wisconsin becomes a very dangerous team on just small set plays. And in our sport, in our game those set plays get you victories, and that's what I think has really happened at the end of our season, is we're just executing on those plays and some key players are stepping up.
Dean, a lot of people have seen Molly Meuer grow up around here . . . Memorial and now at Wisconsin. Can you talk about her contributions to your program?
"She's, I think she's got one of the biggest hearts in the country, and she's, she is truly, you know, she's led our team two years in a row now. Not many kids are captains back-to-back years. And it's great, now we've got a mini Meuer in her sister, younger sister. But Molly's just one of these players that grows with each game, each season so much. She is truly our team leader, our captain. And she's one of these people that cleans up everybody else's, you know, mistakes and things like that.
"And we've moved her in the back. We've played her in the defensive mid. And ever since we made that change in our system and having her in that position, it's just helped our team explode. So, but she's one of those players who every day is there for your team. And when things are tough, she helps the team get through that. And that's what coaches get excited about, is just the mentality of Molly Meuer and it's great to see that we've got another one coming along. And she's much like her. Not as loud, not as vocal. In the women's game you've got to teach your players to be more vocal. Unfortunately they have to be bossy, and that doesn't always sit well amongst players. But Molly's one that really can help that make, make work amongst your team, teach the younger kids that it's appropriate, it's acceptable. So it's hard to see her leave. Four years already?"
Can you talk a little bit about the match-up with Michigan? You defeated them earlier. And it looks like that bracket you've done pretty well against.
"We're actually very excited to be taking on Michigan. We're kind of 2 and 2 in Big Ten play with them. The earlier game in the year was just a matter of, I think we played one of our best matches in the season, and Michigan is right now at a position where they're not doing well. They've hit a bump in the road of their season. They're 10-7-1 or something. And what's happened recently for them is they're not scoring goals. And that's just, the match-up for us are going to be able to control their two top forwards.
"One is a freshman and she's one of their top forwards, second in goals and assists for them. And the other one is actually a kid from where our players, she plays on a club team out of Chicago where several of our players play with her. Her name's Therese Heaton, and she is one of the top forwards in the Big Ten Conference. But against Michigan, we were able to shut those guys down. And the key is just, again, one, keep the ball away from those guys. And what we did very well is we dominated through the midfield with Meuer, Kabellis and Brown just really stepping it up, kept the ball away from their two frontrunners. I mean, everything for Michigan is those two frontrunners. And when a team has that, you can shut that down."
Dean, sorry to look ahead, but do you need to win a match or two to ensure an NCAA bid?
"Well, 15 wins in a regular season is what's very important. We beat No. 24 Boston College here at home. So we beat No. 13 Michigan at the time. We've beat some ranked opponents ahead of you. And that in itself, going 10 and 0 non-conference, those are some impressive, I think, marks throughout where I believe in my heart I think we've earned a bid, but I also, you know, we've got more to play for.
"And you never know. You can't leave it up to a committee. Certainly what happens with kind of the number of goals that we're scoring in the year is important to a committee as well. The way that you finish your season is important to a committee. And I think that, you know, we would love to go on and just win three more games right now and then be assured and probably be playing at home in a first-round NCAA game."
Dean, maybe you've already pointed to these with, you know, Amy and Molly, but is there anything you can address that changed from the first half of the Big Ten season to the second half and when you've gone . . . in the last, you know, seven, 10 games?
"Well, we've got one player back from injury that wasn't with us originally, and she's now been playing a left back. She's a sophomore, Stacy Omundson. And Molly was in the back in one of those roles there, so when Stacy came back we're able to insert Molly into a position that we really reorganized our midfield and just went with Meuer, Kabellis and Brown.
"And what's also happened is you can see it in a team they're playing within a structure, but there's a lot of freedom and there's a lot of creativity. And you're seeing Marisa Brown actually in the last five, six games, she's been scoring goals, getting assists, and she's just more free because she knows she's got Molly as an anchor and behind her. And just, you know, another sophomore, we actually are just starting one senior, so part of that is some of that experience coming around. Our goalkeeper, Lynn Murray, has really, she's just reading the game and showing like she's learned a lot in a small amount of time.
"And I think that's where your youth is starting to now have that experience and are making some great decisions. Another sophomore, Allison Preiss, scoring six goals, four game-winners. You know, she's getting it done. And it's like things are kind of coming together in terms of that offensive production as well."