The Wisconsin mens soccer team pushed No. 2 Northwestern into uncharted waters Sunday, but the Wildcats again managed to navigate to a familiar destination.
The Badgers provided Northwestern with one of its toughest challenges to date, but the Wildcats emerged from the hard-fought contest at the McClimon Complex with a 2-1 victory to remain unbeaten on the season (10-0-2, 3-0-0 Big Ten).
Northwestern sophomore Matt Eliason tallied his 10th and 11th goals of the season in rapid succession late in the first period to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead, but the Badgers (5-5-2, 0-3-1 Big Ten) did their best to overcome the deficit in the second half.
The UW narrowly missed several chances to score in the second period (including a ball by senior athid=5211&deptid=122"> --> Victor Diaz that caromed off the near post midway through the half), but there was one shot not even Northwestern goalkeeper Misha Rosenthal, who ranks second nationally in goals-against average, could save.
Junior athid=5596&deptid=122"> --> Scott Lorenz halved the Wildcats lead in the 66th minute when he connected on a header that Rosenthal was helpless to stop. It was the third score for Lorenz in the Badgers last two games and also was just the third goal allowed this year by the Wildcats, who entered the contest with an NCAA-best 0.17 goals-against average.
(Rosenthal) made some clutch saves, said Lorenz, who has fired a combined 13 shots in the Badgers last three contests. Hes a good keeper, and you have to do something special to beat him.
After the Wildcats scored twice in the span of 3 1/2 minutes late in the first period, the Badgers responded with a strong offensive attack in the second half. The UW outshot Northwestern 8-7 in the period and also had four corner kicks, forcing the action to largely take place on the Wildcats half of the field.
We threw everything we had at them and they handled it, Lorenz said of the Wildcats. We had more chances in the second half but just couldnt finish.
Lorenzs score his team-leading sixth of the season came as the result of an outstanding sequence that saw defender athid=5600&deptid=122"> --> Andy Miller launch a long diagonal ball to the feet of athid=6608&deptid=122"> --> Austin Spohn , who then connected with Lorenz on a serve to the back post.
The goal was really not important, its more how the team played in the second half, Lorenz said. We responded well when we got down by two goals
All told, the Badgers peppered Rosenthal with eight shots on goal, the most the Wildcats have allowed this season. Rosenthal, who entered the game No. 4 nationally in save percentage, finished with a season-high seven stops, while UW keeper athid=6384&deptid=122"> --> Alex Horwath had five saves.
We came out with the intensity and fight we needed to, and we dictated tempo more in the second half, UW head coach staffid=350"> --> Jeff Rohrman said. The guys responded to the challenge we gave them at halftime and I was proud of the effort they gave in the last 45, but the game is 90 minutes long and we have to come out and play from the first minute.
The eight shots on goal marked the Badgers second-highest tally of the season in that category, an effort surpassed only by the 10 they racked up against Dayton on Sept. 7.
Despite the aggressive attack, the Badgers still fell short of snapping a winless streak against Big Ten opponents that grew to 11 games with the loss. The UWs next chance to score a conference victory comes in an Oct. 18 matchup with Ohio State.
Before that, however, the Badgers turn their attention to a contest with in-state rival Marquette on Wednesday. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Valley Fields in Milwaukee.
Weve had a little bit of bad luck down the stretch, but the teams going to bounce back, Rohrman said. Were a resilient group, so I feel good about how were going to come out on Wednesday.