Double overtime strike gives Badgers a thrilling win against Michigan
Senior defender Isaac Schlenker scored his third goal of the season as the Badgers won 2-1 in overtime.Image By: Brandon Moe and Brandon Moe
Noah Melick’s stunning game-winning goal in double overtime against the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines (3-2-1 Big Ten, 9-4-1 overall) sparked incredible celebrations for the Wisconsin Badgers (4-2, 7-5-2) after pulling off a 1-0 upset.
A hopeful ball by junior midfielder Duncan Storey found Melick running into space in the 108th minute. With two minutes left in the game, the freshman held off Michigan senior defender Daniel Mukuna and avoided a sliding challenge by sophomore defender Jackson Ragen while rifling the ball into the back of the net.
As Melick ran towards the sideline waving his shirt over his head, he ended up at the bottom of a dog pile in a moment that felt bigger than just the one win. Wisconsin jumped over Michigan in the Big Ten standings with the win, but the freshman forward said he is just happy to get chances to contribute and be a part of the big moments.
“It was a great feeling, especially being a freshman," Melick said. "Just coming in and helping the team out right away."
The game was dull in the first half, with Michigan registering zero shots, however, the halftime break seemed to pick up the game’s pace.
Wisconsin started the second half with a good opportunity to take the lead. Junior midfielder Mitch Guitar found freshman forward Andrew Akindele on a reverse ball into the box. Akindele forced sophomore goalkeeper Henry Mashburn into an incredible save to keep out the forward.
Despite the slower first half, the game’s intensity was evident since the start. It felt like a battle with harsh challenges and lots of no-calls. Junior defender Robin Olofsson ended the game with a bandage around his head after an aerial dual with him and senior forward Noah Kleedtke had both drawn blood.
While Michigan only had their first shot in the 62nd minute — senior midfielder Robbie Mertz’s powerful shot went straight into junior goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy’s gloves — the Wolverines put pressure on the Badgers during the final 20 minutes of the half.
Junior forward Jack Hallahan was quiet during the first half, but the Englishman caused problems in the second half, with six shots and two golden chances.
His first was after a run into the box, Hallahan lashed his shot just to the wrong side of the post. Hallahan’s second was a laser from the top of the box, where Cowdroy was just able to reach a hand to it to tip it over the bar.
Cowdroy had four saves on the night to keep his sixth shutout for Wisconsin this season, but it was a team effort. There were lots of scrambles around the goalmouth where both he and the defense had to be alert, and Cowdroy and his defenders did just that to keep Wisconsin in the game.
Despite the cold night, in overtime, tensions ran hotly. A challenge against Akindele, which forced him to leave the game, resulted in head coach John Trask screaming at the referees. Both teams were asking for penalty calls and challenges were flying.
Despite the physical challenges, Akindele and Melick stuck with the game and the close relationship between the strikers was evident.
“We said before the game ‘This is the real deal, we gotta get it done,’” Melick said. “Andrew and I connected well, played well, fought hard and [we] finished the game.”
All the hard work finally paid off with Melick’s goal in overtime, his third of the year which tied him as the team’s leading scorer with his roommate Akindele.
Melick has come alive for Wisconsin, scoring three goals in his last three games, and after the total team effort against a highly ranked team like Michigan, his goalkeeper was happy to see the winner.
“Melick’s been phenomenal so far so it was really good to finally see that hit the net," Cowdroy said. "It was a relief to get it done and get the three points."
After low expectations after key seniors graduated and a slow start to the season, Wisconsin has come roaring back. With statement wins in the Big Ten against Michigan State and now Michigan, UW might be contempt with good building blocks for a young team.
But Wisconsin isn’t done yet, and the team is hungry for more.
“People doubted us," Melick Said. "We’re rising to the top and we’re not done."Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter