Following a hectic weekend in Illinois for the Horizon League Tournament, cumulating in a hard fought 2-0 win over UIC in the Horizon League Championship game, the UWM Men’s soccer team earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tuning into the NCAA selection show Monday morning, the team found out their opponent: the Wisconsin Badgers.
When it was announced, the classroom in Klotsche erupted in cheers from the players. Although they played the Badgers to 1-1 tie last month, the Panthers are thrilled for a rematch.
“It’s an exciting opportunity.” said coach Kris Kelderman.
The road to an NCAA tournament bid was not easy. Sunday’s NCAA championship game against no. 23 ranked UIC at UIC Flames Field, but due to heavy downpours and severe weather warnings made the field unplayable.
Wanting to play the game, Kelderman and Associate Athletic Director Kathy Litzau worked to play the game elsewhere. Soon, they made arrangements to play the game at Lakeside Field at nearby Northwestern University.
With a steady downpour and 40 mph winds, the game stayed scoreless until after halftime. Senior Andrew Stone headed in in the first score to put UWM up in the 51st minute. Sophomore Declan Rodriguez added the second goal in the 67th minute that the Panthers would hold onto for a 2-0 score to claim the Horizon League title.
With their bid for the NCAA tournament, the Panthers will be the sole representitive of the Horizon League in the tournament.
However, Milwaukee will be one of three Wisconsin teams in the tournament, joining their opponent Wisconsin and cross town rival Marquette, who is the no. 9 seed and has a first round bye.
Milwaukee will play Madison on Thursday at 7pm at the Shea McClimon Soccer Complex in Madison. More details are available at the UWM Athletics website