In the Big Ten Championship semifinal, junior forward Christopher Mueller stepped up big time giving his team a chance to advance to the championship game.
Mueller had already done his part to help, putting Wisconsin up 1-0 early in the second half. Yet the Badgers found themselves leaning on Mueller again late in the contest. It was fitting, then, that the player who had the biggest impact on the pitch this season was given a chance to put yet another exclamation on his résumé.
With the game pushed to penalty kicks, the junior stutter-stepped on his approach, as Indiana’s senior goalie Christian Lomeli went one way and the ball went the other. The goal sent the Badgers to the championship and Mueller to the far side of the pitch running around with his jersey off.
Friday, the NCSAA named Wisconsin’s forward to the All-America Third Team. The coaches rewarded Mueller’s knack for goal scoring, as his total rose from five last year to eight this year. Not only did they take note of his scoring, but his ability to set up his team to score, with his assists this year ballooning from three to 11. That increase was thanks largely to the chemistry he built with fellow junior forwards Tom Barlow and Mark Segbers.
Though “clutch ability” isn’t a measurable statistic, the coaches would have been hard pressed to not acknowledge how Mueller scored when his team needed him most, finding the extra gear in crunch time. Big players make big plays in big games, and Mueller was about as big as they come in 2016.
Although third team is a remarkable accomplishment—a Badger hadn’t been selected since 2006—Mueller won’t stop improving, as he’ll look to pace Wisconsin again next year and vault the team into a deep postseason run.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated in the headline that Mueller made the first team. He made the third team. The headline has since been corrected.