Sharing was caring for the newly ranked No. 24 Badgers (3-2-2 Big Ten, 9-3-3 overall) as the offense’s heady passing blitzed the Western Illinois Leathernecks (2-2-0 Summit League, 6-8-1 overall) for three goals, giving Wisconsin a 3-1 win Tuesday night at a rain-drenched McClimon.
The early-strike offense that has characterized much of the Badgers’ goals this season was in full force Tuesday, as the offense drew blood in the fourth minute.
The goal was set up by junior forward Mark Segbers’ well-played ball down the right side of the field, which found streaking sophomore defender Elan Koenig. Koenig centered a pass to junior forward Christopher Mueller, as the forward continued his season of scoring with a strike into the net––his sixth of the season.
“If it’s me scoring, if it's Tommy [Barlow] scoring, if it's Mark scoring, it doesn't really matter,” said Mueller. “We just wanna get to the tournament, we wanna win the Big Ten tournament.”
All three juniors have paced the Badgers this season, taking on the offensive load and creating opportunities day in and day out.
“The chemistry, I’d say it's there,” said Mueller. “For the whole team, the offense has just been really clicking lately.”
That offense continued to click in the 16th minute, when the junior trio of Mueller, Segbers and forward Tom Mueller hooked up to get the second Badger goal of the night. The score was a result of another well-played ball down the field, as Mueller sent a pass to Segbers, who crossed in a strike that was perfectly placed for Barlow. Barlow extended his 6'2 frame and headed in his third goal on the season.
This is not the first case of the juniors finding each other for a timely goal, as the three exchanged tactical passes to set up a Segbers strike against Green Bay.
“If we’re all clicking, we’re all on the same page, it’s gonna be really hard for teams to stop us,” Mueller said.
But Mueller wasn't done with the offense just yet, as the forward notched another assist after finding freshman forward Blake Carr, who dashed down the sideline and sent a pass to junior midfielder Mike Catalano, who tallied his fourth goal on the season.
“Great to see the freshman Blake Carr feeding Mike Catalano,” said coach John Trask. “We really wanted Mike to see if he could find a chance to get in the box.”
The only blemish of the night came after an apparent miscommunication between the Badgers’ backline and redshirt senior keeper Casey Beyers, who checked in at halftime for junior keeper Philipp Schilling. Sophomore defender Adam Novak notched the Leatherneck’s lone goal.
The second half after that was an evenly contested game, but the Badgers’ lead and stout defense was too much for the Leathernecks, as the rainy night ended 3-1 in favor of Wisconsin.
“I knew they wouldn't quit,” said Trask. “They played a great second half.”
The Badgers now turn their attention to their regular season finale against the Ohio State Buckeyes (3-3-1 Big Ten, 5-10-1 overall) on Sunday at McClimon.
“I expect nothing but the best from them,” said Trask “You can throw out records; it’s the Big Ten.”
The Badgers tout an impressive 7-0-1 record at home this season and will hope to grab one more win on Senior Night.