The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team didn’t do much on offense Thursday night, but it did just enough to keep its season alive.
Chris Prince found the net on one of the Badgers’ mere four shots on goal but it sent UW past UW-Milwaukee 1-0 in the opening round of the NCAA soccer championships at the McClimon Soccer Field.
The victory was the 14th straight at home for UW dating to last season. The streak is the longest in the nation and provided the No. 19 Badgers with a triumphant return to the postseason tournament.
UWM outshot the Badgers 14-6 overall, including 9-1 in the second half. The Panthers (15-3-2), with whom the Badgers played to a 1-1 draw on Oct. 23, also held an advantage in corner kicks at 8-2.
“It was a good thing we got a goal in the first half,” UW junior defender AJ Cochran said. “You could tell in the second half, once one of us had the touch on the ball there were two or three Milwaukee players swarming that guy immediately.
“We just had to hang on and battle.”
UW (14-4-2) was playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since winning the national championship in 1995 — and sixth overall.
“We just held strong and played good defense and kept the shutout,” senior goalie Max Jentsch said in a tweet.
The goal was just the second of the season for Prince, a senior forward.
Prince scored at 12 minutes, 46 seconds of the first half. He put his shot past Panthers goalkeeper Liam Anderson (two saves) from 6 yards out off passes from seniors Toni Ramadani and Nick Janus.
Max Jentsch made three saves in goal, notching his fourth shutout of the season in seven starts.
“Obviously, it’s a disappointing result. We play to win and look at the result,” said UWM coach Kris Kelderman, whose Panthers were the most recent team to beat UW at home. “A lot of credit to Wisconsin, they are a very good team — a tough team to play on any field, much less their home field. Give them a lot of credit. I hope they advance and represent our state in a way they have all season long.”
The victory boosted UW’s all-time record against the Panthers to 15-14-7.
That the Badgers scored thanks to help from Janus came as no surprise. Janus has been one of UW’s most consistent offensive threats this season. The first-team All-Big Ten selection tallied scores in 10 of the Badgers’ previous 17 contests including the game-winner against Marquette (Oct. 2), Drake (Oct. 8), Michigan State (Oct. 27) and Northwestern (Nov. 3).
UW-Milwaukee, which won the Horizon League’s tournament, entered on a hot streak, unbeaten in its past six games (5-0-1).
The Panthers were making their ninth appearance in the NCAA tournament.
UW-Milwaukee 0 0 — 0
Wisconsin 1 0 — 1
First half: W — Prince 2 (Ramadani, Janus), 12:46.
Saves — UWM (Anderson) 2; W (Jentsch) 3.
Shots — UWM 14, W 6. Corner kicks — UWM 8, W 2.
Fouls — UWM 16, W 22.