Wisconsin strikes early to earn first Big Ten win of 2017

Senior midfielder and defender Enda O'Neill helped UW blank Loyola Chicago 2-0.

Image By: Mara Matovich

Along with free tickets and pizza thanks to the Wisconsin Men’s Soccer’s “Colony Night” event, students were given quite the show by the Badgers (1-1 Big Ten, 2-1-2 overall), as they put three early goals past the Northwestern Wildcats (0-2, 1-5) en route to a 3-1 victory.

The Badgers struck first in the fourth minute. After a long throw-in from the right hand side, sophomore defender Robin Olofsson found the ball at his feet in the six-yard box, and the Swede buried the ball in the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

Four minutes later, the Badgers doubled their lead thanks to senior forward Tom Barlow. The St. Louis, Mo. native received the ball on the left side of the pitch and did well to beat the right back and cut inside only to have his initial shot deflected. After a bit of a lucky bounce to find the ball back at his feet, Barlow rocketed the ball into the goal, notching his second of the year, and Wisconsin’s second on the night.

In the 21st minute, the Badgers appeared to have the game locked up after a cross from the left side was hit in for an own goal to extend the lead to 3-0.

Still, the first half wasn’t a complete breeze for UW, as right before halftime, the Wildcats made Wisconsin sweat.

First, Northwestern opened their account in the 41st minute. Senior forward Elo Ozumba headed a corner against the post, forcing the Badgers defense to clear the ball without any forward pressure. Eventually, junior midfielder Emmett Gordon wound up with the ball at his feet, and he ripped a shot from the left side to score for the Wildcats, making the contest 3-1.

Northwestern had momentum, and the game almost slipped away from the Badgers soon after, when UW’s redshirt senior goalkeeper Philipp Schilling was caught with the ball at his feet outside his box. NU’s Gordon ended up with the ball, and chipped the ball towards a wide open goal. Robin Olofsson, however, saved his keeper and Wisconsin with a goal-line clearance, and as the whistle blew for halftime, the game was — fortunately for Wisconsin — still 3-1.

In the second half, the Badger forwards kept up the pressure, with their best moment coming in the 71st minute thanks to a great counter by Barlow and senior forward Christopher Mueller. Barlow found Mueller with a great through ball, and Mueller breezed past the defenders to find himself just to the left of the goal. His shot ultimately went just wide, but the play exemplified potential future success if Wisconsin can continue to feed through balls into open areas for quality opportunities.

Still, despite the pressure, the Badgers’ fourth goal never came, and the scoreline ultimately resolved at 3-1, granting Wisconsin its second straight win at home. UW’s next game will be against the Loyola Ramblers (0-2 Missouri Valley Conference, 3-3) for Wisconsin’s last contest as a part of its annual “Pac the Mac” event.

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