With two wins this week, a 2-0 win over Nebraska at home, and a 1-0 road win over Illinois, the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers (8-0-1 Big Ten, 12-2-2) remained undefeated in conference play and clinched a share of the Big Ten championship with two games still remaining on the regular season.
The Badgers were rolling these two games, as redshirt junior goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer picked up her ninth, and tenth shutout of the season, becoming only the sixth player in school history to record 10 or more shutouts in a single season.
It was senior day at McClimon when the Badgers played the Cornhuskers (3-5-2 Big Ten, 4-9-4) as seniors, Payton Wesley, Allie Winterfield, Dani Rhodes, and Camryn Beigalski careers with the program were celebrated. Nebraska came out of the gates aggressively, holding a 6-3 shot advantage in the first half as well as earning seven corner kicks to the Badgers one.
Although it is unusual for the Badgers to concede the corner kick advantage, let alone allow seven in a half, the defense remained strong and weathered the storm. Freshman midfielder and forward Emma Jaskaniec recorded her second goal of the season just over 30 minutes into the half to give the Badgers the lead.
The Badgers then flipped the switch in the second half, locking down Nebraska on the defensive end, allowing only one shot and corner kick for the entirety of the half. On the offensive side, Wisconsin looked more like themselves, playing with their usual high levels of pace and ball control. They held a 7-1 shot advantage, and Cammie Murtha recorded her fifth goal of the season off an assist from Dani Rhodes.
“Our seniors have been instrumental to our success and our chemistry…great people and great teammates,” Murtha said after the game.
After a strong win on senior night, the Badgers then took to the road to face the Illini (2-7-1 Big Ten, 8-8-1). It was a great performance from the side of Illinois, as the Badgers were pushed to the limit to pull out the close 1-0 victory. The Badgers, who usually hold shot and corner advantages over their opponents, conceded the advantage in both to the Illini, who held a 10-7 (5-2 on goal) shot and 9-6 corner advantage. Jordyn Bloomer recorded five saves, as the Badgers also racked up 14 fouls, although no cards or cautions were given.
The Badgers lone goal was scored by Dani Rhodes; her ninth of the season. Junior midfielder Maia Cella pushed a long forward ball to the feet of the Illinois backline. The defender then made an ill-advised attempt at a back pass toward the goalkeeper that lacked the necessary power to find its target. Rhodes then used her outstanding speed to get to the ball first and slot the ball towards the far post, just past the diving goalkeeper.
The Badgers have two more games in the regular season before the start of tournament play. If they can maintain their fantastic form against Northwestern (3-5-2 Big Ten, 5-9-3) and Ohio State (2-4-3 Big Ten, 4-8-4) both of whom reside in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings, it looks like the Badgers will have a great chance at remaining undefeated in conference play for the entirety of the season.