Semifinal loss to Michigan possibly ends Wisconsin's NCAA Tournament hopes
Freshman forward Andrew Akindele and the rest of the Badgers were held scoreless in their 1-0 semifinal loss against Michigan.Image By: Kalli Anderson and Kalli Anderson
After the Wisconsin Badgers men’s soccer team (6-2 Big Ten, 10-6-2 overall) lost 1-0 to the Michigan Wolverines (4-2-2, 12-4-2) in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinal, their NCAA Tournament fate is out of their hands.
Michigan got the opening goal in the 23rd minute. A corner by junior midfielder Jack Hallahan caused a commotion in the box that led to a handball by UW sophomore defender Patrick Yim. The referee awarded a penalty, and sophomore midfielder Mark Ybarra put it past junior goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy to give the Wolverines a 1-0 advantage.
The penalty was a cumulation of Wolverine pressure in the first half. Wisconsin struggled to get on the front foot against Michigan and was often chasing the game defensively.
The second half was more of the same: mostly one-way traffic by Michigan and Cowdroy came up huge for the Badgers. The Australian had four saves to keep Wisconsin in the game, proving why he earned two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week awards.
Junior midfielder Mitch Guitar was out for the Badgers after being placed in concussion protocol after the 6-3 win against Rutgers in the quarterfinal. UW seemed to miss the Second Team All-Big Ten player’s active presence in the midfield, but head coach John Trask said Guitar would likely be available if the Badgers have a NCAA Tournament game.
But that “if” is a big question. Wisconsin is firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and their best bet was probably to win the Big Ten Tournament which would’ve granted the team an automatic bid along with their second straight conference tournament title.
Despite early season struggles, the Badgers played really well late in the season going on a 8-1-1 tear before their loss to Michigan. UW beat likely tournament teams Maryland, Michigan State and Michigan in overtime in the regular season, and Trask is hoping the committee is kind to Wisconsin next Monday.
"I think when you look at our resume, we have significant wins against top programs on the road,” Trask said. “Our resume stacks up well to be in the tournament field. This team has put together significant wins and we're very hopeful.”
The NCAA Tournament field will be selected Monday at 3:30 p.m.
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