Junior quietly making name for herself

first_imgGREGORY DIXON/Herald photoThe old adage goes that offense scores points, but defense wins the game. In the world of soccer, a team’s goal is usually achieved by a sparkling defensive play. The hero of the soccer team, much like any other sport, is the player who made the incredible goal or made the improbable save to propel her team to victory. However, it is the hardworking defender who started the goal-scoring play and, more importantly, kept the other team out of the goal. Of course, that play never gets the credit it justly deserves.Such is the case with women’s soccer defender Ann Eshun, as she has been making it her job to make the Badgers look good for years and she has done an admirable job.In her three-plus years on the Wisconsin defensive front, Eshun has been a notable presence on the field for the Badgers. Paired up with high-caliber defenders like assistant captain Natalie Horner and former Badger defensive MVP Jessica Ring, Eshun is on a short list of proven Badger defenders. Through 11 games this season, Wisconsin has allowed only 15 goals, the best opening start for the Badgers through their first 11 games in two years. The minimal goals have been due to Eshun’s growth into the role, a role that has propelled Wisconsin’s defense.”Ann has developed and matured tremendously this year,” assistant coach Carrie Barker said. “She is our anchor in the back [and] the quarterback of our defense. The other three defenders are primarily marking [the opponents], while she is looking at the whole picture [on the field]. She’s done a tremendous job in stepping up in her role.”In addition to her growth at her position, Wisconsin has been able to count on Eshun to play solid defense every single game since she came to campus. Much as Cal Ripken is to baseball and Brett Favre is to football, Eshun has been the iron woman for the Badgers, playing in 56 of Wisconsin’s 58 games the last three years, starting 55 of those games. For Eshun and her teammates, it’s that comfort factor of knowing that on game day, they can count on Eshun to be on the field.”I have been lucky not to be hindered by any serious injuries and been able to practice day in and day out,” Eshun said.”[Having Ann out there] makes me feel more comfortable,” Horner said. “She really helps lead us in the back. Her confidence and her experience helps me play better.”Not only has Eshun developed as a defender, she has thrown her hat into the Badger scoring as well. So far this season, Eshun leads the team in assists with four and scored her first career goal against Illinois earlier this year. With the departure of Ring, Eshun is finding more opportunities to not only run the defense, but to start the scoring attack as well. “It’s good for our team and being dangerous on teams is important,” Eshun said. “It’s something that we have to be consistent with and people know that we are a threat on set plays.””Not only is she keeping goals out of our net, she is putting goals in their net,” Baker said. “That’s huge to be able to get points from our backs and she’s done a great job in getting those points.”But the added scoring is just an added bonus for Eshun this year, since her favorite part of playing defensive soccer is denying an opponent the opportunity to get a goal. “The best part of playing defense is when people run at you one-on-one and tackle, be hard and be that physical presence [on the field],” Eshun said. “People are going to not want to play against you because you are that hard and love to defend.”As for the glory, Eshun doesn’t mind that her teammates get the front-page stories and the scoring records. All that matters is that Wisconsin comes away with a victory and that they don’t let any goals on the scoreboard.”[Defenders] don’t get the glory, but that is something that you have to take with the position,” Eshun said. “You aren’t in the front of the paper unless you let the ball in the net. I don’t have a problem with [not getting the attention]. It’s my job and what I am here to do.”last_img

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