MADISON, Wis.-- Despite conceding two goals in the second half, the No. 15 University of Wisconsin women’s soccer team showed its resilience in defending its home pitch and knocking off the Illinois State Redbirds, 3-2, in double-overtime at the McClimon Complex on Sunday.
After playing one of the most aggressive matches of the season for 102 minutes, sophomore forward Cara Walls sealed the Badgers fifth victory of the season with her second goal of the game on an assist from senior Joana Bielefeld.
• Badgers begin the year 5-1-0 for the second consecutive season.
• Sophomore Cara Walls has her first multi-goal game of 2012 after leading the Badgers in points (19) and goals (9) last season.
• UW begins the season 4-0-0 at home for first time since 2008.
In the 103rd minute, freshman Kinley McNicoll placed her corner kick into the box, and Bielefeld won the ball on a header, placing it just in reach of Walls. The sophomore then collected it from six yards out and netted her 12th career goal and the game-winner for UW.
“I give great credit to Illinois State, they had a game plan and ran it to perfection,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “I’d like to finish a few more of our chances if we can, but it’s really great to get Paige (Adams) and Cara (Walls), our two forwards, on the board. They’ve had a pretty good season and I think we’ve scored more goals already this season than we did all last year.”
The Badgers gave up multiple goals for only the third time this year, as senior Lauren Gunderson again showed flashes of brilliance in net for Wisconsin. The Middleton, Wis., native recorded four saves on the afternoon, improving her record to 5-1-0 in 2012.
UW got on the board 26 minutes into the opening half, as Walls found the back of the net for first goal of the game.
Following a corner from McNicoll, Walls collected the ball and sent a shot on goal that was saved by Redbird keeper Aryn Newsom. The ball played off of Newsom and Walls collected the rebound and scored her second goal of the season.
Illinois State netted the equalizer following halftime. After collecting the ball just past midfield in the Redbirds’ offensive zone, Anna Stinson dribbled through the Badger defense and placed the ball in the right corner of the net, giving Illinois State the confidence it needed to realize it could compete with the 15th-ranked Badgers.
The tide turned in Wisconsin’s favor just seven minutes later as a handball committed by Illinois State led to a penalty-kick and eventual goal for Paige Adams. The senior netted her team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 59th minute, helping the Badgers regain the lead, 2-1.
A strong offensive push late in the second half paid off for the Redbirds, as Illinois State’s Rachel Tejada netted her ninth goal of the season in the 83rd minute, setting the stage for Walls’ heroics in the second-overtime.
“I thought we got rushed in the final third,” Wilkins said. “We’ve shown more patience in previous games and it’s important to stress that we should be worrying less about the results and more about the performance.”
Wisconsin returns to the pitch on Wednesday, Sept. 12, as it takes the short trip down I-94 to take on perennial-power UW-Milwaukee. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. (CT).
“It’s really about being better in transition,” Wilkins added. “It’s great to have Carmelina (Moscato), an Olympian, here to teach the players about how the small things add up and are the differences in wins and losses. The transitional point of the game is going to be the most important or the moment in the game, so I think that’s the part we’re going to focus on for Milwaukee.”