Lighting struck twice for the Badgers, once again from the boot of Noah Melick.
For the second straight game, Melick scored a fantastic strike in double overtime, propelling the Wisconsin Badgers (5-2-0 Big Ten, 8-5-2 overall) to a 2-1 over the Northwestern Wildcats (0-5-3, 4-8-5).
Melick’s second straight game-winning goal in overtime came in a similar fashion to his stunner against Michigan. A long ball from junior defender Zach Klacnick bounced into the path of the freshman forward at the edge of the box. Melcik muscled off a challenge from senior defender Jake Roberge and cut inside before firing the ball into the top corner.
The freshman’s fourth goal of the season makes him now the leading goalscorer and vaults the Badgers into second place in the Big Ten standings.
After a first half with a few chances — except for a scramble by junior defender Robin Olofsson that was barely cleared off the line by the Northwestern defense — the Wildcats struck first.
Junior midfielder Sean Lynch received the ball from a cross on the right wing. Lynch laid the ball off to first-year forward Jose Del Valle, and the Spaniard created some space with a fake shot before firing the ball into the back of the net.
It looked like Wisconsin junior goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy could’ve done better to keep out the shot, but Northwestern was 1-0 up looking for their first conference win of the season.
The goal snapped the Badgers into life, and UW started applying pressure to the Northwestern backline. Wisconsin finished with 17 shots to the Wildcats’ eight, and they kept sophomore goalkeeper Miha Miskovic busy as he finished with seven saves.
But the Serb and NU’s defense couldn’t keep out the Badgers in the end. In the 85th minute, Wisconsin finally got the equalizer. Sophomore midfielder Alex Alfaro got to the end line and cut the ball back across the box. Freshman forward Andrew Akindele’s first-time shot hit the post, but senior defender Isaac Schlenker was there to follow up on a close-ranged half-volley to knot up the score at 1-1.
Schlenker has enjoyed playing farther up field in the past few games as sophomore defender Ben Leas has filled into his old right back role. The captain had a headed chance cleared off the line minutes before his equalizing goal.
That goal gave him his third on the season and a lifeline for the Badgers, as the game headed to overtime.
In overtime, Schlenker nearly ended the game in the first overtime period. The senior captain created some space on the right side with some tricky dribbling, but his shot was saved well by Miskovic, who seemed on a mission to keep out Wisconsin.
Akindele had a long shot that tested Miskovic again moments later, but the Badgers couldn’t break the deadlock.
That is, until Melick’s fourth goal in four games gave Wisconsin their second straight walk off win. The Badgers are heating up — they only have one loss in their last eight games — right before the Big Ten Tournament, and they’ve put themselves in good position to get a great seed and possibly reach the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin has their final regular season game of the season at home against Ohio State on Sunday.