The Wisconsin women’s soccer team (6-2-3 Big Ten, 13-3-4 overall) worked through their previous tough, demoralizing losses and beat the Memphis Tigers (7-2-0 AAC, 17-4-0) 3-0 to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
After an unbeaten run of seven entering the final game of the season with the potential to finish as regular season Big Ten champions, the No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team lost 2-1 on the road to Ohio State and then to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on penalties.
Despite the losses, once the Badgers found out they reached the tournament, it was all business going down to face a formidable Tigers team that just won their conference tournament.
Wisconsin was pushed forward from kickoff, taking five corners and four shots within the first 20 minutes of the game.
That pressure paid off as the Badgers went ahead in the 26th minute. Junior defender Payton Wesley found sophomore forward Cammie Murtha on the left side. Murtha then backed down her defender, turned, and fired to find the back of the net which gave UW a 1-0 lead going into the halftime break.
Entering the second half with momentum, it only took 10 minutes of play after the break for a goal from junior forward Dani Rhodes to double the Badgers lead. Rhodes, the Badgers’ second-leading scorer, managed to precisely slip the ball past the goalkeeper Elizabeth Moberg to put Wisconsin up 2-0 in Memphis.
Just over five minutes later, Rhodes aided in Wisconsin’s third goal of the game as her deflected shot found the foot of sophomore midfielder Maia Cella and the deflection found the net, resulting in a decisive 3-0 lead.
Junior goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer was fantastic in the net, leading the Badgers to their eighth shutout of the season and recording six saves while shutting down the Tigers leading scorer and AAC most outstanding player sophomore forward Clarissa Larisey.
Bloomer has been excellent in her first season as starting goalie, recovering from a nervy showing against Illinois in the Big Ten tournament. It seems the long layoff was helpful for Bloomer, who was composed and confident in goal, putting in a dominant performance that might be otherwise missed in the final score.
The Badgers can now look ahead to a game against Hofstra (6-2-1 CAA, 16-5-1) next Thursday. Hofstra took down a No. 22 Boston College team (6-3-1 ACC, 14-5-1) on the road 4-1, and will also be carrying a lot of momentum into Thursday’s contest, but if the Badgers can play anything like they did against Memphis, they have a chance to advance further.