The No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team (6-1-1) fought a tough battle against the No. 12 Northwestern Wildcats (6-1-1) that ended in an exciting 1-1 draw.
From kickoff, the Badgers came out strong, especially in possession. Junior defender Grace Douglas and junior midfielder Claire Shea brought intensity for UW’s defense and were able to turnover the Wildcats and move the ball back up top.
The Badgers’ possession didn’t lead to a goal in the first half, but UW created multiple scoring opportunities, ending up with 14 shots against the Wildcats, who had only allowed one goal in their first seven games.
But even with Wisconsin’s heavy possession and multiple chances, including one early on in the game on a breakaway by junior forward Dani Rhodes, Northwestern was able to pull in front in the 33rd minute. Senior midfielder Marisa Viggiano curled in a free kick that was nodded down by senior forward Brenna Lovera and finished by senior midfielder Michele Chernesky.
It was one of the few really great chances for Northwestern, but UW’s junior goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer had six saves in the game.
The Badgers regained their momentum in the second half, while rough play resulted in a pair of yellow cards for sophomore forward Cammie Murtha and senior forward Steph Fabry.
Rhodes had came close to scoring earlier in the game only to be denied by NU’s freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood on the break, but Rhodes broke her scoring drought in the 57th minute thanks to some great work on the left wing by sophomore midfielder Maia Cella, who found some space after a long ball forward.
Cella laid the ball off to Rhodes, who was standing just outside the box at a wide angle. It took the right setup, but Rhodes looped the ball over the goalkeeper Wood and scored her first goal of the season in quite a stunning fashion. Even at the strange angle, Rhodes had no doubt what she was doing.
“I was looking to shoot,” Rhodes said. “I was injured in the beginning of the season, and it’s been a long ride coming back.”
Rhodes has had a slow start to the season after scoring 10 goals last season, but she was a key part of the offensive onslaught by the Badgers. After the equalizer there were close calls by both sides as the game went into a nail-biting double overtime.
Despite the dominance from Wisconsin, Wood and the rest of Northwestern’s defense stayed strong and resilient. In the end, Wisconsin couldn’t totally finish the comeback, but Rhodes was happy to see the team’s fight.
“The match overall was just a really fun challenge,” added Rhodes. “It was exciting to see us play the way we did tonight. We controlled most of the game, and we lost that one moment in the set piece, but we were ready for the game and played really strongly.”
Wisconsin will host the Illinois Fighting Illini Sunday, Sept. 16, at McClimon Park for a “Pack the MAC” doubleheader.