The University of Wisconsin’s men’s soccer team, needing a miracle run through the Big Ten in order to reach the NCAA tournament, earned the honor of facing conference runner-up Penn State (12-2-3, 6-1-1) Sunday.

Despite battling with the No. 13 team in the country, the Badgers were overwhelmed in the second half, falling to the Nittany Lions by a score of 3–0.

Wisconsin (3-11-4, 1-4-3) knew that coming out of University Park with a win would be a difficult task, and were certainly viewed as the distinct underdog heading into the first conference tournament match for both sides.

Their regular-season clash ended in a victory for the Nittany Lions, a 2–1 win at McClimon that exemplified all of the struggles which have crippled the Badgers all season long.

The Badgers had clearly prepared well for the expected assault from Penn State’s prolific attack and were on the strategic defensive from the outset. Conceding the possession advantage worked well in the first half to keep the Nittany Lions from the back of the net, but they probed the Badgers and isolated weak points by applying consistent pressure.

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Penn State, riding momentum from the end of the first half, broke through for the first time in the 58th-minute, as substitute Christian Sloan struck to make it 1–0.

Trying to look for an answer, the Badgers switched tactics and attempted to secure a quick equalizer. Instead, the Nittany Lions, sensing defensive vulnerability, scored for a second time in just four minutes of game action, courtesy of Liam Butts.

Suddenly the game seemed out of hand, and the Badgers were simply unable to find any traction offensively, as has happened throughout the year. Wisconsin pushed to get a goal back throughout the rest of the game, but the final goal of the day would also fall to the home side, putting the game to bed in the late stages.

The tournament match would serve as a similar exposition on why this year failed to live up to expectations. In all of the Badgers’ defeats this season, they lost the possession battle, they were out-shot, out-executed and failed to capitalize on their limited chances.

Inefficiency and inconsistency again plagued Wisconsin, as they were competitive for a half, and let the match slip away in the second period.

The loss signals the end of the men’s soccer season and the end of several Badger careers, including star goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy and midfielder Noah Leibold.