It’s a Sunday afternoon home game against Northern Iowa and play has just gotten under way for the Wisconsin women’s soccer team. Seven minutes into the match, redshirt senior forward Kodee Williams burns the defense up the right side and delivers a perfectly timed cross, slicing through the defense and connecting with fellow senior forward Cara Walls who promptly knocks it in for the upper-ninety goal.It’s the kind of chemistry that takes years to perfect.Whether it’s on the practice field, in the conditioning room or during games, UW head coach Paula Wilkins has watched her star strikers grow from the inexperienced freshman first stepping onto the pitch, to award-winning captains of the No. 9 team in the nation.“I think they complement each other, both as people and as players,” Wilkins said. “Kodee’s a little bit more fiery, a little bit more aggressive, while Cara’s a little bit more calm and steady. Not to discredit Kodee at all, it’s a compliment because if they were both similar, it would be kind of boring. I think they add a different dimension together so one’s steady and one’s kind of aggressive.”Having been dealt her fair share of adversity over the years, perhaps the fire and passion Williams brings to the field on a daily basis has been the key factor in getting over the obstacles she has faced. After a promising start to her UW campaign, which included 17 starts, four goals and four assists as a freshman, a devastating ACL injury the following off-season put her career in jeopardy.Although she had to watch from the sideline for the season and start back at square one physically, Williams wasn’t going to let one setback ruin her career after years of hard work to get to where she had been. After months of grueling physical therapy and strength training in the 2011-12 off-season, she had finally made it back off the bench the following season. It was a comeback that would earn her the UW Unsung Hero award and inspire the program as a whole.Whether it was during her recovery period or now, at the peak of her performance, Williams has always been able to count on Wilkins to keep the game engaging for her and the whole team as well.“I think Paula does a great job of changing things up for us at practice and during games,” Williams said. “In the offseason, she really keeps things interesting to keep us interested in soccer and I think that she has also made some awesome changes as a coach that have been passed down to us in terms of our communication styles. What she tells us, how she’s telling it to us, and that’s just really fueled the team I think.”As for Cara Walls, consistency has defined her career thus far. Before she ever took a step on the field for the Badgers, she had already staked her claim as a top national prospect following her performance for the FC U-18 Milwaukee club team, leading her squad to the national championship.Her career as a Badger has been more of the same kind of success. UW’s offensive player of the year in 2012, Second-Team All Big Ten in 2013, and a No. 88 ranking in the 100 Best Women’s College Soccer Players by Top Drawer Soccer are just a few of her highlights so far at the Division 1 level for the Badgers. With seven goals already in the team’s six games this season, it’s hard for anyone to really gauge her full potential.Sophomore midfielder Rose Lavelle, who has contributed as the team’s top 2014 setup player with five assists, said both Walls and Williams “lead by example” both on and off the field.“They work really hard and have very good work ethic which makes us want to work hard too,” Lavelle said. “Off the field, they’re just great people, they get the team together which is great for our team chemistry.”The accomplishments of her teammates should not be discounted by any means either. In just over a year, Lavelle has collected a series of individual accolades, including 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the year, 2013 All-First Team Big Ten and a selection to Soccer America’s preseason All-American Team. Junior midfielder Kinley McNicoll was just named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, as well as the Division I Player of the Week by Top Drawer Soccer Sept. 9 following her dominating two-goal, two-assist performance on the West Coast this past weekend.Looking ahead, the biggest test for the Badgers’ offense will come this weekend with Big Ten play opening up on Friday against undefeated Michigan State before concluding the weekend on Sunday at Michigan (4-2-0).As the Badgers try to continue their hot start through Big Ten play, both Walls and Williams will have to continue their chemistry that produced that early goal against Northern Iowa.
1 Radamel Falcao has been omitted from Chelsea’s Champions League squad for the remainder of the season, but new signing Alexandre Pato is included.The Blues on Wednesday released their squad lists for the rest of the campaign, following Monday’s closure of the transfer window, with Colombian Falcao absent from the group for Europe’s elite competition.Falcao, who has not played since October due to a thigh injury, will therefore miss the Champions League last-16 tie with Paris St-Germain. The first leg takes place at Parc des Princes on February 16 and the second at Stamford Bridge on March 9.On-loan Monaco striker Falcao, who had an ill-fated loan at Manchester United, has scored once so far on his season-long stint at Chelsea. He is named in the Premier League squad list.Falcao was linked with a deadline day move to former club Atletico Madrid or Valencia, while his parent club Monaco earlier in January ruled out a return citing concerns over his fitness.There is one realistic remaining avenue for an exit for the Colombian as China’s transfer window does not close until February 26.Pato signed last week on a six-month loan from Corinthians, but has not played since November, and is included in both lists alongside Matt Miazga, the 20-year-old defender signed from the New York Red Bulls. Radamel Falcao