The Wisconsin Badgers men’s soccer team finished in a 2-2 stalemate Tuesday at home against the No. 13 Northwestern Wildcats. Two late-game goals by the Badgers finished their trailing comeback.
The Badgers came into this game after their tied 0-0 match against No. 23 Indiana on Sept. 15. Similarities between the Indiana game and this game were abundantly clear as no goals were scored by either team in the first half. This was the result of the Badgers’ defensive play and formation to counteract the Wildcats’ aggressive attack. In turn, this clogged up the penalty box for Northwestern and lightened up the load for Wisconsin goalkeeper Nate Crockford.
After halftime, the Badgers were caught off guard by a goal in the 53rd minute by Northwestern forward Ugo Achara Jr., which fueled Northwestern’s offensive agenda. The Wildcats scored another goal 17 minutes later courtesy of defender Ibrahim Obeid after a missed clearance by the Wisconsin defense.
Down in a 0-2 hole, Wisconsin quickly shifted their game plan to be more offensive against the underprepared Wildcat defenders. The Badgers’ high-paced offense translated into the stat sheet where they had more shots, shots on goal and corners than the Wildcats.
Frustration grew for the Northwestern midfielders and defenders as they started to commit more crucial and aggressive fouls down the stretch of the game. Northwestern finished with two yellow cards even though they had three fewer fouls than Wisconsin.
Late-game foul trouble for Northwestern gave way for Wisconsin’s upperclassmen to show their experience and prowess through free kicks that led to offensive advantages and goal-scoring opportunities. One of these chances sprung in the 75th minute from a free kick cross by midfielder Maxwell Keenan that got deflected off a Northwestern defender and headed in by defender Birgir Baldvinsson — his first goal with the Badgers since the Icelandic native joined the team.
With the deficit cut down to just one goal, the Badgers exuded immense pressure on the Wildcats’ side of the field and were rewarded with multiple corner kicks and free kicks that led to some close shots in the goalie area — some of which led to the ball getting as close as the edge of the goal line. However, all of the Badgers’ chances were cleared out by either a Northwestern defender or goalie.
Luck struck the Badgers in the final three minutes of the game when Wisconsin midfielder Tim Bielic blasted in a goal from about a yard outside the box after shaking off a Northwestern player from a rebounded corner kick. Bielic gave no time for Northwestern’s goalie Jackson Weyman to react, which caused Weyman to stand still as the ball flew past his head.
With a two-goal comeback in the books, the Badgers look to use this game as momentum to push through their Big Ten matchups. Wisconsin continues their Big Ten schedule with a game against Maryland at 12 p.m. on Sunday at home.