On Monday morning, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer scored a massive victory in their quest to repeat as Big Ten regular season champs as they downed Michigan 1-0 in Pontiac.
The Badgers, who entered the match looking to get back on track after a 3-1 defeat to Ohio State, opened the scoring in the 20th minute when sophomore Emma Jaskaniec prodded home a feed from Cameron Murtha. They didn’t look back after taking the lead, continually turning away a dangerous Michigan attack that threatened to equalize again and again for the remaining 70 minutes.
Senior Jordyn Bloomer once again proved why she’s considered one of the best goalies in the nation with another heroic performance between the pipes. Despite the Wolverines’ 11 shots, five of which were on goal, Bloomer maintained the clean sheet with five saves. Bloomer was also aided by the steady defense protecting her, with Macy Monticello, Claire Shea, Isabelle Verdugo, and Gabrielle Green (in her first career start) all playing a full 90 minutes.
Also making her first career start against the Wolverines was redshirt junior Halle Fiedler, who joined freshman Sophia Romine and Hermann Award watch-list selection Maia Cella in the midfield. Fiedler rose to the occasion, playing the entire game alongside Cella in the center of the park.
The only area of the starting lineup that didn’t see any change from prior games was the attack, as coach Paula Wilkins’ preferred trio of Jaskaniec, Murtha, and Claire Odmark once again led the line in Pontiac. And once again, the unit proved self reliant for supplying goals, as Murtha and Jaskaniec combined for the eventual match winner. Through the first three games, every assist or goal on the Badger stat sheet has come from Odmark, Murtha or Jaskaniec.
This marks UW’s second-straight win over the Wolverines and UW’s first win at Michigan since Nov. 6, 2005.
This match could prove vital in the race for first place in the Big Ten, as Michigan is one of four presumed contenders for the regular season crown. Now with a win over the Wolverines in the books, Wisconsin will likely only have to defeat Rutgers at home and take care of business elsewhere to put themselves in the driver’s seat for contention.
Given how deep the Big Ten is, “taking care of business elsewhere’ is easier said than done, but there’s no doubt the Badgers have the skill to do so. One more team to keep an eye on is Penn State- the preseason favorite for the Big Ten title isn’t on Wisconsin’s schedule and already suffered a major loss to Rutgers in their opener, but has started to come into form in recent matches. Should the Nittany Lions reach top gear and begin steamrolling other Big Ten opponents, it will be no small task for Wisconsin to keep pace.
The Badgers, now 2-1 on the season, will look to take their momentum from their big win back to Madison (or Loves Park) with them for a two game home stand starting with a tilt against Illinois on Thursday at 11 a.m. CT.