MADISON, Wis. -- Behind Cara Walls' second game-winning goal in as many matches, the University of Wisconsin women's soccer team eclipsed the 10-win plateau in comeback fashion Sunday, defeating Illinois in a 2-1 double-overtime win at the McClimon Complex..
"Every point matters in the Big Ten race and to get three today, instead of one or two is fantastic," UW head coach Paula Wilkins said. "We have three games left, and to get nine more points is going to be the focus for us moving forward.
"We've got to use this as a momentum builder."
Following a two-goal outing against Northwestern on Friday, Walls struggled to find lanes on Sunday as she battled 18-20 mph winds and was kept quiet by the Illinois back line for most of the first and second half.
It wasn't until she took her match-high eighth and final shot that she finally broke through.
Following a scoreless but aggressively-played first overtime period, Walls and the Badgers (10-5-1, 3-4-1 Big Ten) re-took the pitch and immediately looked to strike.
A cross from the right flank entered the box and was blocked by Illinois keeper Steph Panozzo. Walls immediately made a move on the ball and notched her eighth goal of the season, sending it to the far post to end the match and extend the Badgers' win streak to three games.
"It's important, and I think our play in overtime showed that we've had experiences with overtime and we know how to be focused," Wilkins said. "I think getting a goal 45 seconds into the second overtime, with the wind blowing the way it was, is outstanding.
"There's a lot of youth on this field -- four freshmen -- and we can tell that they're just evolving and these games are going to help them in the long run."
The Badgers tallied just as many shots (15) as Illinois but saw a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal. Despite giving up the contest's first score, Wisconsin junior keeper Genevieve Richard tied a career-high by finishing with six saves and garnered her second career win.
The Fighting Illini (7-6-2, 4-3-1 Big Ten) found the net late in the first half as Marissa Holden's 18-yard shot caught the wind and drifted over the outstretched arms of Richard.
It took the Badgers 47 minutes to counter, but in the 81st minute, freshman Lindsey Holmes netted the equalizer.
After a misplayed pass by the Illini, Holmes was one-on-one with Illinois keeper Panozzo. Holmes took a couple of dribbles before letting loose a shot from inside the box that beat the keeper far post and set the stage for Walls' heroics in the second overtime.
Panozzo finished the match with eight saves for the Illini, who matched the Badgers kick-for-kick in corners (5).
"We wanted to stick with the details today and make sure we got out wide on the offense," Wilkins said. "We thought we could affect the game a little bit by getting out wide and that was going to be important for us.
"We needed our forwards to hold up the ball. I thought we gave up that goal at the end of the half because we didn't hold onto the ball and our forwards needed to do a better job.
"Credit to Cara, she was fantastic in the overtime. You could tell she was feeling it and was going to take every shot. When a goal-scorer gets like that you just let them have it."
Wisconsin begins a three-match road trip to end the regular season with a visit to Purdue on Friday, Oct. 19. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. (CT).