Wisconsin freshmen Dani Rhones scored a magnificent overtime goal that propelled the women’s soccer team over their rivals Minnesota Saturday night.
A tightly contested game ended in elation for the Badgers as Rhodes nailed a penalty kick in the 96th minute to give Wisconsin (7-1-0, 1-0-0 Big Ten) a 1-0 win over rival Minnesota (4-2-2, 0-1-0 Big Ten). This marks the sixth straight game the Badgers have won as well as the sixth shutout they’ve amassed this season.
To the surprise of few, these two elite defenses held one another scoreless throughout regulation. Coming into the matchup, Minnesota had allowed only three goals all season while Wisconsin had let up just one since their Aug. 20 loss to Stanford.
Badger goalkeeper, junior Caitlyn Clem, had yet another stellar performance to help lock down a respectable Minnesota offense. Unfazed by the tight score, Clem made saves on all four shots on goal by the Gophers, two within the final six minutes of regulation.
Not to be lost in the result was an impressive outing by Minnesota goalkeeper Kailee Sharp, who made three saves to shut the Badgers out through two periods. Sharp could have easily been the star of the game had it not been for a late foul on Minnesota, sending striker Dani Rhodes to the penalty spot.
For Rhodes, this was her fifth — and arguably most important — goal of the season in a critical conference game.
“We were ranked No. 9 in the nation this past week and we wanted to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Starting off with Minnesota, the Border Battle right away is super intense, so we did a great job coming out strong, and we did our thing, and that’s why we won the game,” Rhodes said.
While this is an encouraging first Big Ten win for the Badgers, 10 more conference games remain until the Big Ten tournament begins Oct. 29. Though Wisconsin is certainly one of the favorites to take this year’s title with a national ranking of nine, they are one of the three Big Ten teams ranked in the top fifteen of the country.
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After being upset in the first round of last year’s tournament, this Wisconsin team knows that doing well in each conference game will be vital for postseason success. Looking forward, it seems that both No. 8 Penn State and No. 13 Rutgers could be formidable Big Ten opponents for Wisconsin this season.
For now though, the Badgers can be content with an emotional victory and an excellent start to Big Ten play.