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Tuesday, February 07, 2023
Chris Mueller had Wisconsin's lone assist in its 1-0 victory over Notre Dame.

Chris Mueller had Wisconsin's lone assist in its 1-0 victory over Notre Dame.

Big Ten Champions: Badgers party like it's 1995 after thrilling tournament run

Philipp Schilling and the Wisconsin Badgers seem to love penalty shootouts.

The senior goalkeeper saved a penalty and scored his own, then senior forward Mark Segbers cooly slotted home his penalty to give the Badgers (4-3-1, Big Ten, 10-4-5 overall) their first Big Ten title since 1995 with the 4-2 win in the shootout over the Indiana Hoosiers (5-0-3, 15-0-5).

“Philip and the guys came through in a pressure situation – hats off to them,” head coach John Trask said.

Wisconsin really seemed to enjoy having the Cinderella role in its run to the championship. After a come back win on the road against fourth-seeded Maryland, Wisconsin had to face the number one-seed Michigan in the semifinals. Fifth-seeded Wisconsin delivered an emphatic 4-0 victory over the regular season champions, making a statement of intent in the Big Ten tournament that the Cinderella's weren’t going away.

“There was a moment there where they looked like they were going to score and then we turned it right back on them with Chris' goal,” Trask said after the win on Friday.

The sequence Trask mentioned illustrated Wisconsin’s threat on the counter attack. The Badgers got the lead before halftime with a poacher’s goal from Mark Segbers from a tight angle in the 29th minute, but Michigan kept the pressure up. After a great save by Schilling was put out to senior defender Alex Masbruch, Masbruch cleared it up and ahead to senior midfielder Chris Mueller. The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year settled the ball, shrugged off the defender, cut back inside and nestled the ball in the side net for 2-0.

Mueller’s ninth goal at the season helped seal the win for the Badgers, but the scoreline got wider after a goal from senior forward Tom Barlow. Mueller intercepted the ball from the Michigan goal kick, and played the ball to Barlow. Barlow had the goal wide open, and made no mistake for the Badgers’ third of the game and his eighth of the season. Freshman forward Alex Alfaro opened his account for the Badgers with a last second goal to sweeten the scoreline further for the 4-0 finish that was just as impressive defensively as offensively, considering the Wolverines outshot the Badgers 20-11.

“To get a shutout against a team like Michigan and how good they are, is really a compliment to our backline and goalie,” Trask said.

While the senior offense shined just as it has done all season, senior goalkeeper Philipp Schilling had seven huge saves, foreshadowing what was to come in the final against Indiana.

In a scoreless affair, Indiana was the dominant side. The Hoosiers came in as the two-seed and had a powerful attack that scored a Big Ten leading 42 goals. Led by freshman forward Mason Toye who had nine goals and junior midfielder Trevor Swartz who had a team-leading seven assists on the season, the Hoosiers peppered the Wisconsin goal, getting 24 shots.

Schilling was up to the challenge, making eight more huge saves during the whole match before his heroics in the shootout.

Senior defender Isaac Schlenker answered after Indiana made their first, then IU hit the post on their second attempt. Senior Tom Barlow hit his just under the crossbar to make it 2-1. That’s when Schilling stepped up.

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The German keeper used all of his 5’10” frame to make a great save against Indiana’s young gun Mason Toye, then it was his turn to take a penalty. Schilling made no mistake, and emphatically sent the ball into the upper 90 to make it 3-1 Badgers in the shootout.

Indiana made another, but Segbers had the chance to seal the win with the game on the line. After a short run-up, Indiana’s keeper guessed wrong, giving the Badgers the win in the shootout.

As Segbers turned around to celebrate, taping his arm to signify the ice in his veins after his stone cold finish, the Badgers celebrated like it was 1995. That was the year of their last Big Ten title.

“No group of Wisconsin players have ever hoisted the trophy, so just a huge congratulations to our guys for hoisting the trophy,” Trask said.

That trophy also guarantees the Badgers a spot in the NCAA Tournament, their first return to the Big Dance since 2013. The Badgers will find out who they’ll play on Monday, but there’s no doubt they’ll be celebrating tonight.

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