It was deja vu for the Wisconsin women’s soccer team Wednesday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Evanston, Ill. In their previous meeting with Minnesota on Sept. 29, Wisconsin trailed 2-0 in brutal weather conditions but ended the game with a win. The same scenario presented itself Wednesday, but there would be no comeback this time. Instead, the Badgers as they were eliminated at the hands of their archrival.
“The effort was there. I think getting caught with those two goals early was challenging for us,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “The first was a bad touch just not paying attention to the wind that actually put a Minnesota player through. And then giving up a corner kick where they end up scoring a goal right from it was deflating.”
Wisconsin struggled with the weather conditions all game long, as the wind gusts reached up to 25 mile per hour, while Minnesota was able to take advantage of the weather early in the game when it had the wind at its back.
The Gophers got on the board early in the game at the four-minute mark, as senior midfielder Shari Eckstrom flicked the ball to freshman forward Taylor Uhl who shot the ball to the upper right corner past diving Wisconsin senior goalkeeper Michele Dalton. Recently named Big Ten Freshman of the year, Uhl’s netted her 14th goal of the season.
Minnesota would get another goal in the 11th minute to further extend their lead. The goal came off of a left corner kick by junior defender Marissa Price, who bent it directly into the goal near the back post past Dalton for her first goal of the season.
Minnesota dominated offensively in the first half, outshooting Wisconsin 8-3. With the wind at their back for the second half, an opportunity presented itself for the Badgers to take advantage offensively, but they were unable to capitalize. In fact, the Badgers did not get their first shot on the goal until the 84th minute. The Badgers lack of scoring in the second half, according to Wilkins, was in part due to a stifling Minnesota defensive alignment.
“Minnesota in the second half got a lot of people behind the ball and played with only one forward up top,” Wilkins said. “It was going to be hard to break them down in terms of that and we needed to get wider and we didn’t.”
With the loss, Wisconsin finished their season with a 5-4-2 record in the Big Ten and 10-8-3 record overall.