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Wisconsin women’s soccer recap: Badgers down Rutgers 2-1 to advance to Big Ten Tournament final

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The win sends the Badgers to their first title game since 2014!

@BadgerWSoccer; UW Athletics Communications

On Thursday night, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team advanced to the Big Ten Tournament final, upsetting No. 22 Rutgers 2-1 in University Park, Pa.

Rutgers took the lead first on a windy, rainy central Pennsylvania night, when star forward Amirah Ali slipped front-line partner Mneka Moneme in on net, where the senior forward made no mistake in a one on one situation. Her neat finish put the Scarlet Knights ahead by one, an advantage they’d maintain through the remainder of the first half and the start of the second.

However, in the 62nd minute Lauren Rice broke the Rutgers spell of dominance and pulled the Badgers level. Rutgers goalkeeper Meagan McClelland rushed off her line to clear a loose through ball outside of the box, but Cammie Murtha reached the ball at the same time and the ensuing deflection fell right to Rice. The winger was a long distance from net, but facing an open goal pulled the trigger and fired the Badgers onto equal terms.

Wisconsin would survive a heart-stopping Sara Brocious chance that miraculously bounced off both posts and into the arms of Badger keeper Jordyn Bloomer, before going ahead for good with just four minutes left.

Set piece specialist Sammy Kleedtke floated a free kick delivery into the box, where McClelland punched it clear- but her punch only fell as far as Rice, who found Maia Cella with a pass, allowing Cella to slip sophomore midfielder Emma Jaskaniec in on goal. Falling down as she shot, the sophomore from Menomonee Falls rifled the ball into the roof of the net, giving the Badgers a lead they’d never relinquish.

The win marks the Badgers fifth straight game unbeaten, a streak that extends all the way back to a March 21st trip to Indiana. They’ll have a prime chance to lengthen that streak, clinch an NCAA tournament berth and take home the program’s first Big Ten Tournament title since 2014 (coincidentally also against Iowa) on Sunday when they face Iowa in University Park.

There are few teams hotter than the Hawkeyes right now, who have strung together three straight victories to make it from the regional quarterfinal to the final as the No. 12 seed. And their most impressive win was their last as yesterday the Hawkeyes took down Penn State, the top seed and the No. 4 team in the nation (per the coaches’ poll).

Their shutout victory (completed while down a player due to a red card nonetheless!) over a Nittany Lions side that had scored for fun throughout the season is indicative of a very dangerous team. The Hawkeyes are more than resolute defensively and know their only pathway to the Big Dance is through a tournament victory. Such a team seeking to “survive and advance” (a la Oregon State and Georgia Tech this year in men’s basketball) will be very hard to break down.

You can catch the Badgers squaring off with the Hawkeyes this Sunday at 11 a.m. Central Time on the Big Ten Network, as coach Paula Wilkins and co. look to bring their first B1G tournament title in seven years back to Madison.