MADISON, Wis. -- Friday evening's match commemorated senior night for seven Wisconsin seniors, but it was a sophomore who stole the show.
A pair of early goals from Cara Walls guided the University of Wisconsin women's soccer team to a 2-1 win over the Northwestern Wildcats at the McClimon Complex.
"Today was definitely about the seniors but it was a little bit more about us getting our feet back underneath us," UW head coach Paula Wilkins said. "That was really important and I told them before the game that these were the recruits that bought into me.
"It was my first recruiting class and it was important for me to see them have ownership of the program and the way they played tonight I think they showed that."
• Cara Walls tallies second multi-goal performance of year.
• Wisconsin earns second Big Ten victory, now 2-4-1.
• Gunderson, Hamann, Jacobsen, Lam-Fiest, Johnson, Bielefeld and Hoff honored on Senior Night.
Senior GK Lauren Gunderson garnered the start in net for UW, tallying three saves and posting her eighth-career win. The Badgers (9-5-1, 2-4-1 Big Ten) outshot Northwestern, 13-9, tallying three more corner kicks and four more shots on goal than their Big Ten counterpart.
Walls tallied the first of two scores in the ninth minute. After collecting the ball in the box near the right post, Walls bodied the ball in the net, posting her sixth goal of the season.
Walls' big night continued in the 23rd minute, as she again found the net from nearly the same distance as her first score. Following freshman Kinley McNicoll's serve from the sideline, Walls played the ball off of her head and watched as it drifted over the outstretched arms of Wildcat keeper, Rachel Bergman.
"I think the confidence that [Cara] has in what she's doing is really important," Wilkins said. "For us we need her to step into that role. I thought she was great holding the ball up in the first half and that made a difference for us defensively."
Walls' seventh goal of the season proved to the game-winning score, as Northwestern gained ground in the second half on a goal from Bo Podkopacz in the 72nd minute.
Just after senior Joana Bielefeld exited the playing field to be looked at, Northwestern (4-9-2, 0-7-0 Big Ten) served a set piece into the box, as Jennifer Korn found Podkopacz for the score.
"I don't like to give up the restart goal," Wilkins said. "I think that was tough and not having Joana on the field for the set piece is always a challenge because she does so well with that. But I thought we did better defensively in different parts -- we still have to be better in the midfield."
Wisconsin was able to secure the win late into the second half with a good defensive stand and great ball control. The Badgers only allowed three shots in the final 45 minutes of action, while tallying seven.
Wisconsin returns to the pitch on Sunday for its final regular season home match of 2012, welcoming Illinois to the McClimon Complex at 4 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.