Wisconsin wins 18th consecutive home game after defeating Wright State

Chris Mueller had Wisconsin's lone assist in its 1-0 victory over Notre Dame.

Image By: Brandon Moe

It was better late than never for the Wisconsin Badgers (2-1 Big Ten, 5-2-2 overall) men’s soccer team Tuesday night, as Chris Mueller’s free kick ping-ponged through a sea of bodies in the 18-yard box and wound up in the back of the net to give the Badgers a 2-1 comeback win in double overtime against Horizon League opponent Wright State (2-1, 5-4-1).

“Knowing the ground was slick, I just tried to keep it low because the ball could deflect or bounce around. Luckily, it deflected in towards the goal,” the senior forward Mueller said.

Not only did the Schaumburg, Ill. native score with his free kick to keep a record 18-game home unbeaten streak alive, but he drew the free kick for the Badgers as well.

It was a dramatic overtime victory for UW after a slow start. Despite an early flurry in the first half, the Wright State Raiders looked much more comfortable with the ball and created more decent chances than the Badgers.

After halftime, UW came out much stronger on the attack. Mueller was the focal point at the start, and his partnership with senior forward Tom Barlow finally seemed to start to unlock the Raiders’ defense. Mueller earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the past week, and continued to be a creative force, playing in Barlow for two chances where he was unlucky not to score.

Despite this great period, it was Wright State who struck first. Raider sophomore midfielder Zach Burgmeier buried a shot past senior goalkeeper Philipp Schilling in the 68th minute to give the Wright State a lead.

But the Badgers did not put their heads down. Continuing their beautiful flowing play, two minutes later senior midfielder Mike Catalano leveled the score. Barlow dummied a pass into him, fooling the Raiders’ defenders and leaving senior forward Mark Segbers alone on the right side.

“I knew as soon he was in the box he was gonna knock it back to me,” Catalano said. Segbers’ third assist of the season was a beauty and Catalano’s goal was clinical, with the senior attacker showcasing the soccer the Badgers are capable of.

After the equalizer, Wright State got back into the game, dominating in a 10 minute period that saw some helter skelter defending by the home team.

The first overtime was all Wisconsin, but there weren’t many clear-cut chances for either team. Then Mueller sealed it in double overtime, giving the Badgers a sigh of relief to keep their home streak alive.

“[Wright State] was a good team. They took us to our wits’ end, but good teams find a way to get wins,” Mueller said.

Wisconsin has won every game at home this season, but for its lofty goals of getting to the NCAA Tournament and making a good run, the Badgers will have to do better on its travels.

“We’re taking care of the home part, now we just got to get decent on the road,” Catalano said.

Its next chance to get their first road victory will be in New Jersey, as UW takes on Rutgers on Sunday, Oct. 1.

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