After being unable to break a 1-1 tie following 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of sudden death overtime, the only option left to claim a victor between Wisconsin and Arizona State was penalty kicks. Badger goalkeeper Michele Dalton came up with two huge saves to give the Badgers a 4-3 advantage on penalty shots and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Playing in their first NCAA Tournament game since 2005, the Badgers were looking to make a statement. Wisconsin sophomore midfielder Leigh Williams was able to do just that, placing the ball into the back of the ASU net off a flip throw-in from freshman defenseman Lindsey Johnson to put the Badgers up 1-0 less than two minutes into the match.
The unique throw-in was something the team had been working on prior to the Tournament. ""That's definitely a set-play we've been practicing all week hoping for a result, so luckily we came out and got that result,"" Williams said.
The half ended with the Badgers up 1-0 and holding a 7-5 shot advantage, but the Sun Devils came out and controlled the tempo of play in the second half.
With the Arizona State offense heating up in the second half, the Sun Devils put Dalton under heavy pressure with nine shots. Dalton finally let one through with just under 20 minutes to play in the game after ASU player Aissa Sanchez tucked one into the far right corner of the net from fifteen yards out. With the game tied 1-1 and Arizona State controlling play, Sanchez felt like they had another goal coming.
""We were pushing really hard forward and we felt we had one again but we let that get away,"" Sanchez said.
The two ensuing 10-minute overtime periods yielded no goals and left the game up to penalty kicks. The Arizona State goalkeeper, who was substituted specifically in for this type of situation, rejected the Badgers' first shot.
Neither goalkeeper was able to save another until Dalton saved the final two Arizona State shots and provided Wisconsin with a 4-3 lead on penalty kicks, prompting the student fans in attendance to storm the field.
The saves and onrushing fans were a memory Dalton will never forget.
""There're no words to describe what I was thinking at that moment and even what I'm feeling right now,"" Dalton said. ""It's surreal, almost. Just, you know, [coach Wilkins] Paula talks a lot about living in the moment and having moments, and that was definitely a moment that I will never, ever, ever forget.""
Having never won been on the winning side of a penalty kick shootout in her life, Wisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins was thrilled that her luck had changed for the Badgers' against Arizona State.
""I was telling the players as a player or a coach I've never won a PK shootout so it was my first experience and I must have just been wearing red or something. It's great to be a Badger,"" Wilkins said.