EVANSTON, Ill. — After clinching a share of the Big Ten Conference regular-season championship on Thursday, the 10th-ranked University of Wisconsin women's soccer team entered Sunday's contest with Northwestern wanting to win the crown outright.
The Badgers seized their opportunity, defeating the Wildcats 3-1 to win the program's first outright regular-season crown.
"There's no better feeling than sharing a moment like that with the people you go through everything with," UW senior captain Payton Wesley said. "Our preparation and mentality has gotten us to this point and we're far from being done. I'm so proud of every person on this team and I'm lucky to be a part of a program like this!"
UW earned its third conference championship and second outright crown, having last won the title on its own in 1994 — the tournament winner was named Big Ten Champion from 1994-96 — before securing a share of the 2015 regular-season championship.
The Badgers extended their unbeaten string to 10 matches dating to Sept. 20, the only blemish being a tie with Iowa on Oct. 17.
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"As a coach, it's all you want to see is them achieve things you know they can do," said 13th-year UW coach Paula Wilkins. "This group has stayed very cohesive and it's been so exciting to watch their dynamic and their success."
Senior Dani Rhodes scored the first goal 15th minute for the Badgers (13-2-2, 9-0-1 Big Ten), charging past the Northwestern (5-10,3, 3-6-2) keeper and sliding the ball into the open net. The Wildcats tied up the game in the 22nd minute.
In the last minute of the first half, junior Claire Shea scored her first collegiate goal, rocketing a shot past the Northwestern keeper from the middle third of the field.
Freshman Jenna Kiraly added her second collegiate goal in the 74th minute, nudging the ball into the back of the net off of a free kick taken by junior Lauren Rice.
Junior Jordyn Bloomer made four saves for the Badgers.