Madison, Wis. - In the final seconds of double overtime, Nebraska junior Caroline Gray sent a free kick from just left of the 18-yard box on goal and in between the legs of Husker defender Ari Romero, screening the Wisconsin goalkeeper as it found the right side of the net with one second remaining to give No. 22 Nebraska the dramatic 2-1 golden goal victory in Madison.
Gray's game-winning attempt came with three seconds remaining in the contest after Wisconsin's Alexandra Heller picked up a yellow card for a tackle on NU's Mayme Conroy. Gray composed herself in the big moment, stepped up and kept the Huskers (11-3-1, 6-1-0 Big Ten) atop the Big Ten Conference standings with her third-career game winner.
"I just knew that this was the last chance we were going to have to win this game and that it was all up to me," said Gray about the final scoring opportunity. "It honestly was such a team effort after everyone's hard work and determination to get fouls and get balls into the box."
The wild finish was the perfect capper to an intense second-overtime period which featured several aggressive plays, including a late red card against the Badgers. In the final moments, NU goalkeeper Emma Stevens was presented with a challenging opportunity as she came out and make a clutch stop near the top of the box. The attempt ricocheted off Stevens and resulted in the Nebraska counterattack that led to the game-winner.
That final save by Stevens was her sixth stop of the match and moves her into a tie for first in all-time saves at Nebraska with 239 career stops. Erin Miller previously held the record alone by herself for 11 seasons.
The Huskers got started early on in the match when Kylie Greischar earned an NU penalty kick chance at the 6:29 mark. Jordan Jackson put the PK into the left side of the net, beating the diving Wisconsin keeper who dove the opposite direction for her sixth score of the year and 32nd career.
"It was a team win," commented Jackson. "Everyone put everything they had into the game. Sometimes you have to grind out a win and it may not be the prettiest thing but you just have to do it."
Wisconsin (8-4-2, 3-3-1 Big Ten) came up with the equalizer in the 30th minute when junior Cara Walls poked in a header. The contest remained tied after one half of action as the Badgers held a 5-3 edge in shot attempts, while recording four corner kicks to three for the Huskers.
The Badgers outshot the Huskers 25-18 on the night, while both teams earned seven corner kicks. Wisconsin committed 17 fouls in the match, compared to just four Nebraska whistles.
Nebraska has now scored in 12 consecutive matches for the first time since 2002. The six conference victories for NU is the most since 2008. Conroy led the NU offense with five shot attempts, while Jackson tacked on three. Romero and Conroy were the lone Nebraska position players to play all 110 minutes of action.
Nebraska will visit Minnesota for the final conference road test on Sunday, Oct. 20. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.