The Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team (6-2-3 Big Ten, 14-3-4 overall) looked to be heating up after a 3-0 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament over the AAC conference champion Memphis Tigers (7-2 AAC, 17-4 overall).
The Badgers officially caught fire in the second round as they demolished the CAA conference champion Hofstra Pride (6-2-1 CAA, 16-6-1 overall) with a stunning final score of 6-0.
Junior forward Dani Rhodes was the catalyst for the Badgers, scoring an astonishing four goals, the most in a single game by an individual in Wisconsin history and tying a Big Ten record with the performance. Rhodes was constantly on the attack throughout the contest, tallying 10 shots, seven of which were on goal.
Sophomore forward Cammie Murtha and senior midfielder Alexis Tye both added a goal and an assist each while senior midfielder Victoria Pickett and junior defender Claire Shea both tallied assists.
Just like in the first round win, Wisconsin was on the attack from kickoff. California-native Tye scored the first goal of her career in her home state off a corner kick from Shea in the first minute. Rhodes put away her first goal of the game in the 23rd minute, and the Badgers cruised into the half up a comfortable 2-0.
Play went on as normal for the first eight minutes of the second half; then the pandemonium began. Rhodes found the back of the net with a header from a crisp Murtha delivery, and the Badgers went on to score three more goals in the span of 15 minutes to give the final score of 6-0.
Junior goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer was once again incredible, earning her ninth shutout of the season. Bloomer was dominant in the first half while the final result was still in question, shutting down the potent Hofstra offense with ease.
As fantastic as this game was for the Badgers, they will have to rapidly compose themselves to prepare for the absolute powerhouse that is Stanford women’s soccer (10-0-1 Pac-12, 19-0-2 overall).
After winning the NCAA Tournament last season, Stanford swept through nearly every opponent unfortunate enough to be caught in their path. With 13 shutouts and a ridiculous average of 2.76 goals per game, the Badgers certainly have their work cut out for them Sunday. Sophomore forward Catarina Macario and senior midfielder Jordan Dibiasi are the two major threats of the Cardinal offense, with 13 goals and seven assists for Macario and nine goals and 10 assists for Dibiasi.
Despite their stellar performances in the first two rounds of the tournament, the Badgers will certainly be underdogs in this Sweet 16 matchup, taking on the Cardinals on their home turf in Palo Alto. However, if the Badgers can maintain their hot streak, they will give Stanford their toughest challenge of the season to date.