Panthers Outlast Ohio State, 4-3, On Late PK
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Aug. 27, 2008) - Sophomore Nicole Sperl converted a penalty kick with 91 seconds remaining to give the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's soccer team a hard-fought 4-3 win over Ohio State Wednesday evening at Engelmann Field.
The Panthers scored their second-straight win over a Big Ten opponent to get their 2008 season off to a 2-0 start. They extended their unbeaten streak against the conference to six games (4-0-2). The game was the first of the season for Ohio State.
Milwaukee saw a 3-1 lead slip away as the Buckeyes fought back to knot the game at 3-3 when Ashley Bowyer found the back of the net on a 25-yard free kick just into the 89th minute. UWM did not relent, immediately going down the field and drawing the decisive penalty kick just 18 seconds later. Freshman Keara Thompson sent a ball into the box for freshman Sarah Hagen, who got taken down by the OSU keeper. Sperl then stepped up and converted the PK for the game-winner.
"To get a 3-1 lead and lose it on a soft goal with two minutes remaining can be hard and demoralizing," Milwaukee head coach Michael Moynihan said. "We got a beautiful pass from Keara to Apple (Hagen) to set (the penalty kick) up. That play showed maturity and composure and we got it from our freshmen. A lot of teams would have folded in that situation."
Thompson and Hagen each finished with a goal and an assist for the Panthers, while another freshman, Laurel Ragalie, finished with a goal of her own. In addition to the game-winner, Sperl added an assist of her own.
"All of our freshmen are different and all of them are hungry," Moynihan said. "They all play with confidence and are aggressive scorers. You don't usually see that in freshmen."
Both teams tallied three goals in a wild second half. The Panthers, who had a 1-0 lead coming out of halftime on Ragalie's goals, made it 2-0 on Thompson's first collegiate goal in the 51st minute off a free kick from Sperl. OSU answered right back in the 53rd minute on a goal by Genna Brand.
UWM once again made it a two-goal game in the 58th minute when Hagen picked up her team-best third goal of the season.
The Buckeyes then mounted a comeback, pulling within a goal in the 63rd minute and eventually tying it with less than two minutes remaining.
Milwaukee held a 15-9 shot advantage, putting 10 shots on goal. Lauren Robertson came up with five saves for OSU, while her defense added a team save in the 35th minute.
The Panthers controlled the first half, generating a number of dangerous scoring opportunities, while limiting Ohio State's chances on the other end. In the 17th minute, Kreuser received a cross at the far post and rocketed a shot on goal, but the Buckeye keeper made a diving save. Then, Thompson found herself with the ball on a near open goal in the 35th minute, but had her shot stopped by a defender.
In the second half, the opportunities still came, but Milwaukee was able to capitalize on them more often.
"We made a tactical adjustment in the second half that I thought worked well," Moynihan said. "We got two goals and then got away from what we had been doing. They got a lot of balls past our defense that we didn't handle well."
Tonight's match was the opening match of the 2008 Milwaukee Cup. UWM continues the tourney Friday, hosting Samford at Engelmann Field at 7 p.m.