Marquette dances into Sweet 16

For the second time in school history, the Marquette women’s soccer team advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament after edging Wisconsin-Madison, 5-4, in penalty kicks Sunday afternoon.

The women’s soccer team became the first Marquette athletic team in any sport to reach the Sweet 16 in five years, when it lost to to UCLA in 2005.

The Golden Eagles beat the MAC Tournament champions from Central Michigan 1-0 in the first round Friday night, on a goal by junior forward Rachael Sloan in the 61st minute to reach Sunday’s intrastate showdown.

The Badgers and Golden Eagles traded jabs and were tied 2-2 after regulation and two overtime periods. As is required in the NCAA Tournament, the game would be settled with penalty kicks, one on one shots from 12 yards away.

After senior defender Lauren Thut missed the first penalty attempt, Marquette (16-4-3 overall) was on the brink of elimination as the teams traded goals to make it 4-4 with one Badger left to kick.

The penalty kicks were reminiscent of Marquette’s loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Dayton last year, when the Golden Eagles lost 4-3 on penalty kicks.

“We had a little flashback to Dayton last year, and Florida in 2006 at home,” coach Markus Roeders said. “Thankfully, it didn’t end up like that this year.”

Badgers senior forward Darcy Riley could have won the game for Wisconsin (11-4-5 overall), but her shot was knocked away by senior goalkeeper Natalie Kulla to keep the match alive.

Following the match saving save by Kulla, Sloan nailed her penalty kick, and once Wisconsin freshman midfielder Deja Walker’s attempt went wide, Marquette (No. 3 in its bracket) celebrated at midfield in one of its most exciting games in team history.

“Jubilation would be a proper word for what we’re feeling,” Roeders said following the win. “We’ll celebrate tonight, and then get ready for Florida State next.”

The Seminoles, seeded No. 2 in Marquette’s bracket, beat South Florida 2-1 at home Sunday afternoon and will host the Golden Eagles Saturday, Nov. 20, at noon in the Sweet 16.

Marquette took an early lead in the first half on a free kick from Thut, finding junior Big East defensive player of the year Kerry McBride, who headed the ball in for her second goal of the season in the 11th minute.

The Golden Eagles led 1-0 at halftime, but the Badgers were aggressive on offense and struck twice in a minute on two goals from sophomore midfielder Monica Lam-Feist.  The first Lam-Feist goal came in the 66th minute.

Down 2-1, the Golden Eagles responded just 40 seconds after Wisconsin’s second goal, when freshman defender Katie Hishmeh’s ball found sophomore midfielder Lisa Philbin, whose third goal of the season went just inside the far post in the 68th minute.

“It could have been anybody, but luckily I got my head on it, and put it in a good spot,” Philbin said.

Wisconsin outshot Marquette 13-12 for the game, including eight shots on goal, while the Golden Eagles concluded the game with five shots on target.

Despite all the shots, neither team put a shot on goal in either overtime period, leding to the penalty kicks.

Kulla finished with six saves, while the Wisconsin goalkeeper , redshirt junior Michele Dalton, had three.

“It was a crazy game, and it’s always good to beat a rival like Wisconsin,” McBride said. “We’re happy to continue our season and Florida State will be a great challenge.”

Thut’s assist of McBride’s goal was her 13th of the season and tied her for second on Marquette’s all-time single-season assist list.