Wisconsin hopes to continue run and knock off Michigan

Christopher Mueller and Mark Segbers hope to continue UW's season and knock off Michigan.

Image By: McKaylin Gamel

The Wisconsin Badgers were down a goal after 30 minutes to a team they had never beaten in their most important game of the season. The Maryland Terrapins had the Badgers’ number, and a 28th minute goal from junior forward Sebastian Elney had Wisconsin’s season hanging by a thread.

But two second half goals including the game winner in the 87th minute by senior forward Mark Segbers gave Wisconsin (4-3-1 Big Ten, 9-4-4 overall) a victory over No. 23 Maryland (5-2-2, 10-5-3) in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, and in the process, extended Wisconsin’s season.

“Beating Maryland at home where we feel we should have gotten a win last year just makes the win that much better,” Segbers said.

The St. Louis, Mo. native was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team this week, and he showed his stripes last week by scoring the game-winning goal. After great wing play by senior midfielder Chris Mueller, Segbers knocked home the playmaker’s cross just past the outstretched arms of Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.

Sophomore midfielder Noah Leibold scored his first ever goal to equalize in the 50th minute, but the headlines once again came from Mueller and the rest of the senior attack. Mueller, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big Ten First Team, notched his 14th assist on the season to get the crucial winning goal.

“Maryland is an excellent team and program and we've had some great battles with them over the last year and a half,” head coach John Trask said after the game.

This latest battle was UW’s first ever win over the Terps, and now the fifth-seeded Badgers will go to Indianapolis for the Big Ten semi-finals for the second straight year where they’ll face regular season Big Ten champion Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan (6-1-1, 12-4-2) clinched the conference title on the last day of the season against the Terps and beat the Badgers 2-1 earlier this season. Against Northwestern in the first round, the Wolverines pummeled the Wildcats 4-1, with sophomore forward Jack Hallahan netting two to move his tally up to seven goals on the season.

“[The Wolverines] are an excellent team,” Trask said during his weekly Monday press conference. “Very well-coached, a lot of individual talent. It’ll be another great test for our guys.”

After last week where Wisconsin won on the road against Ohio State for the first time since 2000, and after a similarly huge upset over Maryland, there’s chatter about Wisconsin potentially reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

Drew Conner was at the Badgers’ practice on Thursday to send off the Badgers to Indianapolis. Conner, who currently is a midfielder for the Chicago Fire, helped break the Wisconsin huddle, and gave some advice to the players before its all important semi-finals game against Michigan.

While the Badgers are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament as it stands, a win against Michigan and a victory against either two-seeded Indiana Hoosiers or the sixth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in the final will guarantee UW a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Still, their chances are very good after the win over Maryland, with Trask talking about how it’s a signature win.

“Last year when we were sitting squarely on the bubble [for the tournament], we didn’t have that signature win,” Trask said. “It’s about can you beat teams that are in the NCAA Tournament and yesterday we proved it.”

While it’s easy for Wisconsin to look ahead, it was all focus during practice, and Segbers hopes to continue the momentum.

“You could tell there was a different focus and energy from the guys today, and I'm excited to take that and use it for the semifinal match next week,” the senior forward said.

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