The Badgers’ Big Ten title hopes came crashing down Sunday afternoon, as the No. 1 ranked Maryland Terrapins prevailed in a closely contested 2-1 match.
These two teams battled to overtime the last time they played Oct. 14, with Wisconsin (4-2-2 Big Ten, 11-4-4 overall) giving the Terps (7-0-1 Big Ten, 19-0-2 overall) all they could handle, which was foreign for Maryland who coasted through many of their 19 wins. But, the Terrapins prevailed with a goal in the early stages of overtime, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of head coach John Trask’s team and setting up a possible revenge scenario. The Badgers got that chance in the biggest game of the season.
Maryland set the tone for the game early as sophomore forward DJ Reeves sent an endline strike past Badgers’ redshirt junior keeper Philipp Schilling in just the second minute. With that goal, Wisconsin was rushed into an attacking mode early on, something they have been able to excel at over the course of the season.
That early offensive power the Badgers needed for an equalizer came via two staples of the offense all season: junior forwards Christopher Mueller and Tom Barlow.
Ten minutes after the Terps’ goal, Mueller found Barlow with a ball in the box and Barlow finished to even the score at one.
“Great goal by us to get back in it and make it 1-1,” Trask said. “[Barlow has] been a force all season long.”
But Maryland did not quit, earning a corner with three minutes left in the half and capitalizing. Sophomore midfielder Jorge Calix was the trigger man, placing the corner with supreme accuracy to sophomore forward Sebastian Elney, who beat Schilling for the decisive second goal.
The Badgers’ efforts were not halted by the deficit in the second half, but nothing came to fruition and Maryland clinched its third straight Big Ten Championship—all coming since the school joined the Big Ten in 2014.
“Congratulations to the Maryland team and their staff to go undefeated in the regular season,” Trask said. “They’re an excellent team.”
The Badgers now turn their sights to the NCAA Tournament, as the verdict on Wisconsin’s fate will come down Monday at noon.
“There are no guarantees,” Trask said. “[But we] only lost to Maryland, the No. 1 team in the tournament and country, twice since September.”
Wisconsin has made a statement in the Big Ten tournament, and throughout the season, but if the season is over, it will not be looked as a shortcoming, but a stepping stone to the future for Trask and the Badgers.