MADISON — Michigan goalkeeper Patrick Sperry has made his fair share of significant stops in his career.
But the redshirt junior made the two biggest saves of the season Thursday night to propel No. 2 seed Michigan past Wisconsin, 4-3 on penalty kicks, after the teams battled to a tie in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Sperry stood on the goal line beneath the lights with his uniform drenched by rain after 110 scoreless minutes. He stopped the Badgers’ second and fifth attempts. The Wolverines hit four of five.
“I’ve been a goalkeeper for a long time,” Sperry said. “There’s cues you pick up, different things that the forward gives away — maybe it’s body position or just the way he looks.
“It’s kind of a mind game either way. They’re trying to fake you out, and you’re trying to read them and call their bluff.”
Wisconsin junior goalkeeper Alex Horwath was not as sharp. Junior forward Peri Marosevic scored the final goal, and it was no surprise to Michigan coach Steve Burns.
“When Peri Marosevic steps up to take your fifth, that’s money in the bank,” Burns said.
Although Marosevic sealed the win, open looks were limited for the Big Ten’s second leading scorer.
From the onset, Wisconsin (1-5-1 Big Ten, 9-8-2 overall) focused on their defensive backfield to stifle Michigan’s offensive trio of Marosevic, junior Mauro Fuzetti and senior Jake Stacy. Each time the Wolverines advanced the ball on offense, they were met by a flurry of Wisconsin defenders and struggled to find open shots.
Badger defenseman Andy Miller said because the Michigan forwards found shots at the beginning, Wisconsin shifted more players to the backfield. The Badgers wanted to limit Michigan’s one-on-one match-ups and shots on goal.
This was not the first time this season Michigan and Wisconsin remained tied through 110 minutes this season. On Sept 27, the two teams opened the Big Ten season with a 1-1 tie. This time, the Badgers’ season ended.
“I am feeling unbelievable, Marosevic said. “This is probably one of the best feelings as a soccer player I have ever had.”
Michigan (5-1-1 Big Ten, 13-4-3 Overall) advances to the semifinal against Indiana tomorrow at the McClimon Memorial Track and Soccer Complex.