Coming off big wins last weekend, the University of Wisconsin Women’s Hockey team (24-1-1, 18-1-1 WHCA) is going into their matchup against No. 15 St. Cloud State (12-10-2, 8-10-2 WCHA) this weekend looking to maintain a high standard of play.The last time the two programs faced each other, Wisconsin walked away with two shutout wins.Focusing on the bigger pictureThe Badgers not only won twice against North Dakota this weekend, but also secured home ice for the first rounds of the WCHA playoffs. But the Badgers need to keep their winning streak up for the next few weeks if they want to clinch a top playoff seed.Minnesota isn’t far behind Wisconsin in the WCHA standings though. The Badgers are now facing the pressure of the Gophers bearing down on them for the top seed. Only one loss could see Wisconsin fall to the number two seed.Wisconsin keys to victory:Defense is a mustWith playoff season looming around the corner, the Badgers’ defense must be sharp to keep points off the board. This means that UW goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens will need to keep playing with the same accuracy that she has been playing with all season. But in order to do that, her defenders are going to need to support her and help prevent another team from scoring.Thankfully, Wisconsin has the top defense in the WCHA, a unit that allows only .6 points per game — the lowest season average in UW history.With defensemen such as Mellissa Channell, Jenny Ryan, Courtney Burke and Kim Drake all having over 25 blocks on the season, they just need to keep up their performances and they should find success.The main three: Nurse, Pankowski and ClarkWisconsin’s offense is going to be key in the next few matchups, but especially important against St. Cloud State. The Badgers’ leading scorers, forwards Sarah Nurse, Annie Pankowski and Emily Clark need to be given plenty of shooting opportunities.During Wisconsin’s last matchup, Nurse managed two of UW’s seven points in the series while Pankowski tallied one. Considering that each member of the trio has over 15 goals this season, allowing the three to capitalize on scoring opportunities will put Wisconsin in place to succeed.Containing Molly IllikainenIllikainen leads the Huskies with 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists). Her dangerous .233 shooting percentage has made her a staple scorer for St. Cloud State this season. She will be a challenge to the UW defense and Desbiens. Keeping her at bay will be paramount for a Wisconsin victory.
The Dutch failed to qualify for the European Championships but remain well ahead of Ireland in the FIFA rankings in 14th position.Martin O’Neill’s side will also host Switzerland on Friday March 25th and Slovakia on Tuesday March 29th.
Jordan Spieth broke new ground at Augusta as he claimed his first major title with a stunning four-shot triumph at the Masters.We take a look at the numerous Masters records now held by the unflappable 21-year-old American, who is set to rise to second in the world rankings.It was one of the greatest performances in Major championship history as he fired a final round 70 to win the Masters at Augusta by four shots.Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson finished tied for second place after a stunning afternoon of golf which will send shockwaves through the sport. Rose’s total of -14 has been bettered only five times in the tournament’s history, but the Englishman found himself four shots behind a 21-year-old superstar in the making whose display was every bit as impressive – if not more so – than Tiger Woods’ record-breaking victory back in 1997.LOWEST WINNING SCORESpieth finished the week with a score of 270, matching the 18-under total achieved by Tiger Woods when he claimed his first green jacket in 1997. This year’s winner would have claimed the record outright had he not bogeyed the last. LOWEST 54-HOLE SCOREA third-round 70 enabled Spieth to shave a stroke off the previous best 54-hole total. Woods (in 1997) and Raymond Floyd (in 1976) had both completed three rounds in 201 strokes, but Spieth became the first man to take just 200.LOWEST 36-HOLE SCORESpieth’s halfway score was also one better than the 131 recorded by Floyd in 1976. In following an opening 64 with a second-round 66, he equalled the lowest 36-hole total in any major.YOUNGEST FIRST-ROUND LEADER The aforementioned 64 meant Spieth became the youngest player to lead after day one at Augusta, a record that previously belonged to world number one Rory McIlroy. He is also the second-youngest Masters champion behind Woods, at 21 years and eight months.MOST BIRDIESPhil Mickelson made 25 birdies in the 2001 tournament, but Spieth roared past that tally with an astonishing 28 gains across his four rounds. Somewhat surprisingly, the champion did not register an eagle.FIRST MAN TO 19 UNDERWhile Spieth had to ultimately settle for a share of the tournament’s lowest winning score, his birdie at the par-five 15th on Sunday saw him become the first man to reach 19 under in the history of the Masters. FIRST WIRE-TO-WIRE WINNER SINCE 1976Floyd was the last man to lead after each of the four rounds, and Spieth displayed admirable composure to follow suit, maintaining an advantage of at least three strokes throughout the final day.FIRST SOLO FIRST-ROUND LEADER TO WIN SINCE 1984In a week that saw Ben Crenshaw make his 44th and final Masters appearance, Spieth emulated his fellow Texan’s 1984 success by converting an outright first-round lead into victory. In the 30 Masters between Crenshaw’s first Masters title and the triumph of Spieth, no solo leader from round one had gone on to win.–