Blugolds women's soccer team knocks off top-ranked Wheaton College

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. ( — The UW-Eau Claire women's soccer team faced its toughest challenge of the season Wednesday night as they welcomed the top-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) to Bollinger Field.

The Thunder came into the game undefeated with a 6-0-0 mark and ranked No. 1 in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division III poll.

Gina Williams (Sr.-Madison, Wis./Verona Area) and the rest of the Blugolds answered the challenge though with a 2-1 upset-win in double overtime, to hand Wheaton College its first loss of the season.

The Blugolds came out strong early on and battled, showing no signs of intimidation. But just 8:48 into the game, the Thunder struck with a goal off a corner kick to take the early 1-0 lead. But the Blugolds kept their composure and played a scoreless half the rest of the way.

Nina Behrenbrinker (Jr.-St. Paul, Minn.-Cretin/Derham Hall) made two saves in the first half while the Blugolds got one shot on goal.

UW-Eau Claire came out strong in the second half and had several good scoring chances, but they were not able to solve the tough Wheaton College defense. It looked like the Thunder would hold on for the 1-0 victory, but Williams had other ideas.

In the 87th minute, Williams put one past the Wheaton College goalkeeper to even things up. Megan Hanson (Fr.-Verona, Wis./Verona Area) and Allie Stone (Jr.-Madison, Wis./Verona Area) picked up assists on the goal.

The two teams headed to overtime and it was the Blugolds who had the better opportunities in the first 10-minute frame. But neither team was able to score, so they headed to the second, and final overtime.

It was Williams again, who scored just 2:33 into the second overtime period to pick up her second goal of the game, and more importantly, the game-winner. Abby Beinlich (Jr.-Madison, Wis./Madison Memorial) picked up the assist as the Blugolds swarmed the field to celebrate the upset victory.

The Blugolds will have a little time to enjoy the victory, but they will have to get ready for Saturday when they welcome UW-Stevens Point, whch is 5-1 this season as they get back to conference action. The game is schedule for 2 p.m. at Bollinger Field on Saturday.

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