DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald PhotoLast Saturday, while most Badger faithful were at home cheering on the University of Wisconsin football team, the UW women’s soccer team had one of its most outstanding games of the season.The Badgers knocked off UW-Milwaukee 4-0. It was an exhausting game for the Badgers, but the victory was much valued.Following the game, autograph enthusiasts eagerly awaited for game highlighters Taylor Walsh, Allison Preiss and Katy Lindenmuth to sign their miniature soccer balls.Hats were tipped that night to the offense, but little attention was bestowed upon the defense.Badger faithful seemed to overlook No. 21 Ann Eshun. That night, the sophomore defender was never alone in the backfield, as Panther forwards constantly put pressure on her in their pursuit of a shot on goal. Eshun’s skillful footwork and speed helped goalkeeper Lynn Murray record the Badgers’ third shutout of the season.Eshun also received the opportunity to showcase her offensive mettle, when just over a minute into the game, Eshun made a crucial pass to Walsh, which led to Walsh’s first career goal. It was also the first assist of the year for Eshun and the second of her career. Though Eshun possesses offensive potential, being a defender has always been in her heart. “Obviously there is not a lot of glory in being a defender, but I like it,” Eshun said. “I like getting stuck in, defending people and hitting people, as bad as that sounds, and just keeping them out of our goal.”Eshun has always been a naturally talented defender. Once a basketball star, it took the persuading of her youth travel coach to convince Eshun to take soccer more seriously. She took her coach’s advice and hasn’t regretted her decision to quit basketball.Once Eshun was able to concentrate exclusively on soccer, she found success immediately. While in high school, Eshun helped lead the Madison 56ers to back-to-back state championships.When it came time to decide on where to play soccer in college, her accomplishments led her no further than the 15 miles to UW. Eshun wasted no time adjusting to her new team. In her freshman campaign, the Madison native started 20-of-21 games. She recorded one assist against Ohio and helped her team return to the NCAA tournament. Eshun’s hard work throughout the year was acknowledged when she received the Freshman Award at the conclusion of the season.”It was nice to be appreciated like that,” Eshun said in response to receiving her award. “I shared the award with goalkeeper Lynn Murray, so it was nice for both of us to receive that award.”Though Eshun takes soccer seriously, she is often a jokester off the field, making her teammates laugh, but knowing when to focus. Though she possesses an intense approach to soccer, the sophomore remains calm and relaxed in pressure situations.”On the field Ann is really intense,” teammate and roommate Shannon Terry said. “But whenever she gets the ball, she is really calm. Someone will come at her full speed and calmly she’ll tap the ball and pass it along.””Ann contributes a lot for us on the field,” assistant coach Carrie Barker said about Eshun. “She carries herself very professionally. She’ll have her jokes but knows when to joke around and when not to. When Ann talks, people listen and people respect her for that, and for who she is. She is very intelligent and wise.”Eshun enjoys practicing hard and playing hard and is often viewed as a leader by her teammates and coaches.”She is a starter and a sophomore, but acts like an upperclassman on the field,” Barker said. “She acts like a leader and is very consistent, which is incredible for her.”Though a young leader, Eshun still has some skills to perfect. In the future, Barker sees Eshun becoming one of the premier defenders in the Big Ten. “She still has a lot to learn, but she’ll continue to get better year after year,” Barker said.
“When you chase it for so long you say ‘finally’,” he told Spanish television.“I feel very happy because in the end the league is very long, it starts in August… and when spring arrives everything is decided, we have passed everything.“We’ve been pursuing it since the beginning, we have been in the lead, we’ve finished well, with a big margin… It’s the first La Liga that I’ve won.”The only blip on the Catalans’ season was the stunning Champions League quarter-final loss at Roma when they blew a 4-1 first-leg lead.“The elimination (by Roma) marked us a little bit because it was unexpected, but out trajectory has been extraordinary,” added Valverde.“There is always a small ‘but’, but we’ll try again next year.”Barca knew they just had to extend their record unbeaten streak to 41 La Liga matches to seal a seventh title in 10 seasons, and Philippe Coutinho fired them into an early lead.Messi’s 38th-minute volley made it two, but Lucas Perez pulled one back for Deportivo before half-time and Turkish winger Emre Colak stunned Barca with an equaliser midway through the second period.Barca finally saw off their stubborn hosts, though, as Messi pounced after a brilliant one-two with Luis Suarez before slotting in to complete his 30th La Liga treble.The Catalan giants now hold an unassailable 11-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, who have just three games to play, and are closing in on becoming the first Spanish side to go through a top-flight season without tasting defeat.“We have managed an almost perfect league campaign, without losing so far. I hope we can continue,” midfielder Sergio Busquets said.Andres Iniesta was surprisingly left on the bench after the midfield great announced earlier this week that he will leave the club at the end of the season.But it was his expected long-term successor Coutinho who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, bending an exquisite finish into the top corner for his third La Liga goal for the club since signing from Liverpool in January.Deportivo had to win to stave off relegation for another week, but Clarence Seedorf’s men were denied an equaliser when Perez was flagged offside after tapping in from close range.Messi went close to doubling the advantage just before the half-hour mark, only for home goalkeeper Ruben to pull off an excellent one-handed save to turn his free-kick around the post.– Deportivo cause problems –Lionel Messi scored two late goals to end Deportivo’s resistance and wrap up the La Liga title © AFP / MIGUEL RIOPADeportivo were causing Barca plenty of problems at the back, though, and centre-back Fabian Schaer should have levelled as he headed over when unmarked inside the six-yard box.But Messi drilled a curling Suarez cross past Ruben at the keeper’s near post to score his 30th league goal of the campaign, before on-loan Arsenal striker Perez swept home to halve the deficit just two minutes later.Despite the close scoreline, Barca were playing as if the second half was a pure title party, with centre-back Gerard Pique even performing a few ‘keepie uppies’ on the left wing.Their complacency cost them in the 64th minute, as Celso Borges unselfishly squared for Colak to score.Suddenly the champions-elect were desperately trying to hang onto their unbeaten record, as goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a smart stop from another Schaer header.But Barcelona showed their class as Suarez and Messi combined to terrific effect with eight minutes to play — the latter clipping the ball in off the post.Suarez again sent the Argentinian racing clear three minutes later, and the 30-year-old made no mistake to complete a hat-trick.The 33-year-old Iniesta came on to a standing ovation in the 87th minute as Barca closed out a successful title-winning campaign in style.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Barcelona won their 25th league title and seventh in 10 seasons © AFP / MIGUEL RIOPAMADRID, Spain, Apr 30 – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was delighted that his side “finally” wrapped up a 25th La Liga title with four matches to spare, after a Lionel Messi hat-trick secured a thrilling 4-2 victory at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.Valverde’s men completed a league and cup double after thrashing Sevilla 5-0 in last week’s Copa del Rey final, regaining the Spanish crown from Real Madrid and relegating Deportivo in the process.