The Wisconsin Badgers women’s soccer team closed out regular season play on Saturday, drawing Minnesota 1-1 on the road in Minneapolis.
Following a slow first half, play picked up quickly after the break as Sophia Romine fired the Badgers ahead in the 51st minute with a point blank volley. The lead was short lived however- just three minutes later Gopher freshman Abi Frandsen latched onto a through ball from McKenna Buisman and made no mistake once one on one with Jordyn Bloomer. The first goal of the freshman from Monticello’s career would be the last of the game though, as the teams would then go the next 56 minutes of the game scoreless.
The best chance for a winner came from the Badgers just minutes before the second overtime’s conclusion- Cameron Murtha successfully rounded Minnesota goalkeeper Megan Plaschko but her shot was cleared off the line at the last second.
The Badgers now head into the Big Ten tournament in a strange spot. The conference’s choice to incorporate divisional play into the conference tournament makes for some incredibly strange Bracketology implications. Though they finished fourth in the standings, the Badgers hold undoubtedly the easiest path to the conference “final four.”
Their road to the semifinals as the 1-seed in the West cluster will only consist of a home match with either Northwestern or Purdue (No. 9 and No. 10 in the conference respectively), whereas in the East bracket overall conference champions Penn State will have to face either Indiana or Michigan (No. 5 and No. 8) and Rutgers and Ohio State, both of whom finished above Wisconsin, will have to play each other for a spot.
ICYMI…— Big Ten Soccer (@B1GSoccer) April 4, 2021
The 2020-21 #B1G women's soccer postseason schedule has been finalized … the action kicks off April 8 and you don't want to miss a second -- it will be #B1G https://t.co/nMrdFslSQj pic.twitter.com/4haBz4Y2ay
This is both a blessing and a curse- while their path to a conference title is easy, they don’t get a chance to get a win against another “bubble” team until the semifinals, and that’s only if Illinois emerges as the other team in the West cluster. Basically, at least in the context of the national tournament, the Badgers have everything to lose with a loss to a lesser team and almost nothing to gain in terms of a statement win to the committee.
With the draw, Wisconsin finished the regular season at 6-2-3, while Minnesota ended at 5-3-3. UW is now 18-13-2 all-time against Minnesota and is unbeaten in its last nine matchups with the Gophers. The Badgers will begin play in the Big Ten tournament on Sunday, when they’ll face either Northwestern or Purdue at McClimon Field in the conference quarterfinals.