BADGERS BATTLE TO DRAW WITH MICHIGAN BUT FALL IN PENALTY KICKS
MADISON, Wis. -- Officially it's a tie, but the result of Thursday's opening-round game of the Big Ten Men's Soccer Championship certainly left the Wisconsin men's soccer team at a loss.
The Badgers, seeded seventh in the tournament, battled No. 2 seed and 10th-ranked Michigan to a 0-0 draw on a damp and dreary night at the McClimon Complex but still saw their run at a Big Ten championship halted.
After 110 scoreless minutes, it was Michigan that earned the right to advance by a 4-3 margin in penalty kicks.
The Wolverines (12-4-3) now face No. 3 seed Indiana in the second of two semifinals Friday at the McClimon Complex.
The Badgers, meanwhile, now must wait for Monday's NCAA tournament selection show to see if their season will continue. The UW has not qualified for the national tournament since winning the NCAA title in 1995 but seeks to be one of 26 at-large teams named to this year's event. The Badgers are ranked No. 36 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index released by the NCAA.
Selections for the 48-team field will be revealed live on ESPNews at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Taking the team ranked sixth in the RPI to a double-overtime draw for the second time this season certainly won't hurt the UW's case, but the result was a difficult one for the Badgers (9-7-3) to swallow.
"Even after the game, before we take PKs, we go up to each other and say ‘good game' no matter what happens because, you know, it's a toss-up," senior defender Andy Miller said. "It's tough. It's the worst way to go."
Miller was first to attempt in the shootout and found the back of the net, but Michigan's Mauro Fuzetti did, too. Wolverines goalkeeper Patrick Sperry then halted Zack Lambo's attempt for the Badgers, while Michael Holody put Michigan ahead by making good on his try.
After Eric Conklin scored for the UW, Badgers goalkeeper Alex Horwath halted Cam Cameron's try to keep the score knotted at 2-2. Pablo Delgado was next for the Badgers and scored on his attempt, as did Michigan's Adam Keller, to make it 3-3 with one shooter left for each team.
The UW's Scott Lorenz was up first and was unable to get past Sperry, but Perica Marosevic slotted a shot past Horwath to send Michigan on to the semifinals.
The draw mirrored the 1-1 tie the teams battled to when the Wolverines last visited Madison on Sept. 27, a game that also ended in gut-wrenching fashion for the Badgers when Michigan scored the tying goal on a penalty kick with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
This time around, however, both teams were forced to contend with the elements, as well. What began as a light rain at kickoff developed into a thoroughly soaking shower in the second half, saturating the McClimon Complex field.
"It's a heavy field with the rain and everything," UW head coach Jeff Rohrman said. "When you get into extra time, it starts to take its toll on you."
The teams combined for just six shots in the two overtime periods, all of which were launched by Michigan. For the game, the Wolverines outshot the Badgers, 21-8.
Of those shots, however, Michigan managed to put just five on goal, and Horwath finished with four saves.
"I think the weather might have helped us as much as it might have hurt us," Horwath said. "It kind of slowed down Marosevic and Fuzetti, and all those guys up top.
"You have to give us credit, though. We came out and we just battled."
The Badgers managed to put a pair of shots on goal but relied on defense to weather the attack of the Big Ten's top-scoring team for the second time this season.
"The game at that stage, as I said to the guys, is more about heart and guts," Rohrman said. "I was proud of the effort, I was proud of the way they came out and battled and competed.
"I told them they should keep their heads up because I thought they represented themselves very well."
- The draw was the second-ever tie for Wisconsin in Big Ten Championship play. The Badgers are now 7-15-2 in league tournament play since the conference adopted the current event format in 1991. The UW's other tie came in a 1-1 draw with Michigan State in 1996.
- Thursday's game was the final contest at the McClimon Complex for the Badgers' four seniors: Victor Diaz, Kenny Dix, Zack Lambo and Andy Miller.
- The Badgers placed three athletes on the All-Big Ten second team in juniors Scott Lorenz, Taylor Waspi and Eric Conklin. Colin Monasterio also earned a spot on the league's All-Freshman team.
- Thursday's was the seventh shutout by the Badgers in 19 games this season, but marked the first time all year the UW did not win a game in which it shutout an opponent (6-0-1).
- By earning the shutout in goal, the 13th of his two-year UW career, junior goalkeeper Alex Horwath moved into a tie for fifth on the Badgers' career shutouts list with Eric Hanson (2002-2004).
- With eight shots in Thursday's game, the Badgers have been held to a single-digit shot total in three consecutive matches. Prior to that streak, the UW had been held to fewer than 10 shots just once in 16 games.
- 30 --- Brian Mason