GREGORY DIXON/Herald photoWhen it comes to soccer, Taylor Walsh does it all.The junior forward has been a leader offensively for her hometown team, the Badgers, this season. Statistically, Walsh leads Wisconsin with three goals and six points in 10 games played this season. She also leads by example and exudes confidence, which rubs off on the rest of the team.”Taylor is awesome,” freshman forward Darcy Riley said. “She is a leader on and off the field and has the best touch [on the ball] that I have ever seen. She leads well by showing what to do, and her calmness with the ball gets us everywhere.”Walsh’s excellent touch led the team to a 1-0 victory Sunday against Ohio State as she scored the Badgers’ only goal on a difficult shot over the charging Buckeyes’ goalkeeper early in the first half.”She brings composure and the ability to finish,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “That is a tough goal to hit with the goalkeeper running at you. She did very well to finish and give us that early lead.”The win for Wisconsin was its first since Sept.16 at Northern Arizona and the goal by Walsh was the team’s first since winning the same game against the Lumberjacks 1-0.”We were in a bit of a slump,” Riley said. “[However], we have been playing better and better, and we have not gotten down on ourselves. [Taylor’s goal] pumped us up.”For Walsh, the goal was her second game-winner of the season and her third goal overall. What makes it even more special for Walsh is that she is a Madison native and grew up watching the Wisconsin women’s soccer team when she was young.”The best part is that I am from Madison,” Walsh said. “I have grown up loving the women’s soccer team. They were my idols when I was a kid, and now I get to do what I have always wanted to do.”Walsh is not the only member of the team that hails from Madison. Senior co-captains Katy Meuer and Ann Eshun are also Madison natives. The three have grown very close over their years at Wisconsin, something that has helped Walsh.”I knew Ann and Katy pretty well growing up through soccer,” Walsh said. “They especially helped me my freshman year when I was hurt. They even brought me peanut butter M&Ms when I could not really do anything, and I was stuck in my dorm room.”Another major influence on the team for Walsh has been the addition of Wilkins this season. Wilkins has helped Walsh expand her game and become more confident in her abilities.”Paula has definitely seen things in me that I kind of lost sight of,” Walsh said. “Paula has taken me to a different level. She believed in me and believed that I am capable of even more than I am doing this year.”As Walsh has grown more confident and improved her level of play, she has in turn helped her teammates improve and become more confident in their own abilities. In particular, Darcy Riley is among those that have learned from Walsh.”I have learned how to keep myself relaxed,” Riley said. “[Taylor] makes my confidence go up. If I am just anxious about something, she settles me down and gives me a few little pointers.”Even with her recent success and her ability to raise her teammates’ level of play, Walsh still feels as though she can continue to improve before she leaves the University of Wisconsin.”I definitely need to keep scoring goals,” Walsh said. “I just want to expand my game. I think I can do a lot more than I am even doing now. I want to work on doing everything I can to help the team.”
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