Following the heartbreaking loss to Nebraska, Wisconsin rebounded with a 2-1 win over Iowa Sunday. The Badgers (9-4-2, 4-3-1 Big Ten) jumped back ahead of the Hawkeyes (11-4-1, 3-4-1 Big Ten) in the Big Ten standings with the win and now find themselves in fourth place overall.
Although it would be difficult, head coach Paula Wilkins wanted her team to forget about Friday’s loss in order to perform the way they did on Sunday.
“One [goal] was to forget about Friday,” Wilkins said. “That was the first thing … I thought emotionally we were going to have to be strong for this game and I thought the kids responded decently well.”
The Badgers struck first in the 11th minute when senior Alev Kelter found the back of the net from the top of the box after an assist from Cara Walls. The game would remain 1-0 until just one minute and 36 seconds into the second half after a Hawkeye goal from Bri Toelle to tie it up at 1-1.
A second-straight overtime game for both teams seemed like a good possibility until Kinley McNicoll hit a shot from 25 yards out that freshman Rose Lavelle headed into the net for what would become the game winning goal in the 80th minute.
“I was in the box and [McNicoll] chipped it in,” Lavelle said. “It just happened to hit my head and it went far post.”
Iowa couldn’t tally an equalizer for the remaining 10 minutes giving the Badgers a much needed victory.
“I don’t think we played our best, but I think we definitely fought through until the end and were able to stay focused and maintain,” Lavelle said. “Now we’re just trying to get as many points as we can to get a better seed in the tournament, so this one was huge.”
The Badgers have just three Big Ten games remaining and will face rival Minnesota Thursday. Wilkins and the rest of the team knew it was a big win for conference standings as the team closes out Big Ten play.
“This win was huge because of the Big Ten ramifications and because of what happened on Friday,” Wilkins said. “I’m proud of the way they responded, especially with a good team like Minnesota on the horizon.”
Last-second heartbreak stuns Badgers Friday
On the spectrum of winning and losing, there are those heartbreaking losses. Then, even further down the spectrum, there is what the Wisconsin women’s soccer team endured Friday night at the McClimon Soccer Complex. With only one second left in double overtime, Nebraska struck following a set piece from just outside the 18-yard box, leaving the Wisconsin players and coaching staff bewildered.
Only just moments before the game-winning play by the Cornhuskers, the Badgers were on the cusp of winning the game themselves, as Wisconsin forward Cara Walls had a run down the center of the field into the 18-yard box. Walls had escaped several Nebraska defenders and found herself one-on-one with the Nebraska goalkeeper Emma Stevens. After firing a shot inside the top of the box that was blocked away by Stevens who was off her line, Walls went for the loose ball in the box, but as she did so, she appeared to get impeded by Stevens.
However, officials made no calls and, just seconds later, Nebraska found itself just outside its offensive 18-yard box when Wisconsin defender Ali Heller pulled down a Cornhusker player, trying to prevent a last second shot. It appeared that time was going to run out, but a free kick was awarded with three seconds left to play.
Nebraska’s Caroline Gray netted the golden goal on the ensuing free kick, a play which Wisconsin goalkeeper Genevieve Richard described after the game.
“The only thing that I saw was the ball curving in behind the wall and the striker was there and I thought she was going to deflect it because it was quite low, but she totally, completely ducked and it just went over her and it went through my legs,” Richard said.
After falling in an early 1-0 hole only seven minutes into the game — Nebraska scored on a penalty kick — Wisconsin battled back to equalize only 20 minutes later. A cross from Wisconsin forward Kinley McNicoll was headed on net by Lindsey Holmes. Holmes’ initial shot was saved by Stevens, but Walls found herself alone right in front of the net and slipped the ball home to tie the game.
But when the overtime periods rolled around, the game began to heat up, as Wisconsin had three shots of its own on goal in a little less than 20 minutes of total overtime play.
The physicality also ramped up a notch as the Badgers were whistled for two yellow cards and a red card in the second overtime, the red card coming on Kylie Schwarz in the 108th minute, forcing Wisconsin to play with one less player.
Despite the controversy, Nebraska still took advantage of the late opportunity and sent Wisconsin to the bitter double-overtime defeat.
“It’s one of the most shocking losses that I’ve had in my career as a coach and that’s 20 years,” Wilkins said.
“I thought it was a great game. I thought we had a good plan for Nebraska and I thought it worked quite well. It’s just hard and I think we have to refocus again for Sunday.”