The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (5-0-0 Big Ten, 9-2-1 overall) left West Lafayette, Indiana with three points after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers (2-3-1 Big Ten, 6-5-2 overall) 1-0.
Early on, the Boilermakers allowed the Badgers to dominate possession, as they looked to stay defensively solid and counterattack through the speedy duo of Leanna Rebimbas and Hannah Melchiorre. For most of the first half, this strategy was effective as they limited the Badger’s scoring opportunities and created a handful of chances from balls in behind the Wisconsin defense.
But each time the backline was beat over the top, and a Purdue forward looked to be in on goal, junior goalkeeper Jordan Bloomer was quick off her line to intervene, occasionally finding herself way outside of the box.
In one such case, Bloomer had to make a perfect sliding tackle to deny Boilermaker midfielder Ena Sabanagic a chance on goal.
In the 25th minute, junior midfielder Maia Cella picked up the ball deep in the defensive third and made a wonderful run straight through the heart of the field, gliding past the Purdue defenders effortlessly. When Cella reached the other box, she poked the ball to junior forward Lauren Rice, whose shot flew straight into the welcoming arms of Purdue goalkeeper Marissa Bova.
Only a few minutes later, the Badgers had another golden opportunity to open the scoring as junior forward Cameron Murtha laid the ball off for junior midfielder/forward Jordan McNeese, but again, the ball ended up in Marissa Bova’s hands.
Finally, in the 42nd minute, the Badgers broke through. Senior midfielder Allie Winterfield whipped in a low bouncing cross from the right wing that was flicked on by Jordan McNeese across the face of the goal, into the path of freshman forward Jenna Kiraly for an easy tap in. This was her first goal as a Badger and made her the eighth different player to score for Wisconsin this season.
Down a goal to start the second half, Purdue had no choice but to defend higher up the pitch and commit more numbers in the attack. The Badgers, on the other hand, were able to sit back and absorb pressure, which they excel at.
The Badgers created a few chances to double their lead through senior forward Dani Rhodes, but otherwise devoted their efforts to slowing the tempo and stymying the Boilermaker offense.
With four minutes left, Purdue had a chance to equalize and possibly force overtime, but the outstretched leg of Purdue forward Mia Roth was unable to connect with Ronimbus’s cross at the back post. This turned out to be the last opportunity of the game for the Boilermaker’s as the Badgers expertly ran out the clock, preserving their win streak in the Big Ten.
Next up for the Badgers are the Minnesota Gophers (1-4-1 Big Ten, 2-9-3 overall), who they take on this Friday at McClimon Soccer Complex. Kickoff will be at 5pm.