After finishing the regular season with a 9-5-5 record overall and a third place finish in the Big Ten, the Wisconsin women's soccer team was expecting an NCAA tournament bid. However, it is hard to say if anyone predicted the Badgers would win their first two games of the tournament.
But that did not stop Wisconsin.
After playing Arizona State to a 1-1 tie after two overtimes Friday, the Badgers claimed victory, winning in a 4-3 shootout. From there, the team kept rolling.
Wisconsin dominated play Sunday, beating No. 13 University of Central Florida 1-0 in the second round to advance to the team's first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1993.
""No one really considered us in the beginning of the year to be in this spot,"" head coach Paula Wilkins said. ""I think that they've risen to every challenge they've been given, and they learn from every opportunity they have.""
The Badgers' lone goal came courtesy of junior mid-fielder Roxanne Carlson in the 45th minute of the first half off a pass from sophomore forward Laurie Nosbusch.
The Wisconsin defense took over, with sophomore goalkeeper Michele Dalton keeping a tight lid on the goal through the second half en route to the shutout. Dalton was perfect on the day, saving both shots on goal and collecting her seventh shutout of the season.
For her performance, Dalton was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com Women's Team of the Week.
As a team, Wisconsin seems to be playing their best at the right time.
""I thought [Sunday's victory] was one of our better performances of the season,"" Wilkins said. ""It was a great time to happen. I think the team's peaking at the right time.""
Wisconsin's win over UCF was certainly a hard-fought, physical victory, with 29 total fouls and three yellow cards between the two teams.
The Badgers' next foe will be ACC champion and No. 7 Boston College. The Eagles boasted a regular season record of 15-3-2, and are coming off of back-to-back shutout wins against Harvard and the University of Connecticut in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Riding a nine-game unbeaten streak, the longest for the team since 1996, Wisconsin faces off against Boston College this Friday at 6 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass.