Lincoln - “Big Ten Champs!” - A preseason goal that evolved into a rallying cry for the Nebraska soccer team became a reality on Friday as the Huskers claimed the 2013 Big Ten Conference title, their first regular-season championship since 2000. The Huskers defeated Indiana by a 3-1 decision to cap off Senior Day at the Nebraska Soccer Field.
Finishing with a 10-1 record in league play, NU notches its fourth regular-season title in program history and ninth combined championship, which includes five conference tournament titles. Nebraska’s 15-3-1 regular-season record marks the highest win total since 2000 when the Huskers also compiled 15 victories prior to postseason play. Nebraska extends its current win streak to six games and improves its record to 11-0-1 this season when scoring first.
The Huskers jumped on the scoreboard first at the 33:29 mark when Mayme Conroy struck from 12-yard out for her eighth goal of the year as Nebraska took the 1-0 edge. Jordan Jackson brought the ball down the whole length of the field, crossing the ball toward Conroy who ended up with the ball and shot the ball far side for the goal.
The one-goal NU advantage stood for the remainder of the first half before the Hoosiers (13-5-1, 6-5 Big Ten) notched the equalizer less than two minutes into the second half. Lisa Nouanesengsy's penalty beat the NU keeper through the left side and knotted up the match at 1-1.
In a strange moment, with the fans trying to find cover from the intense wind and rain, Nebraska brought the ball down, freshman Courtney Claassen crossed the ball from the near to the far side, and from five feet out, Jaycie Johnson tapped it into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead and momentum at the 66:54 mark. The freshman's tenth goal of the year leads the Huskers.
A historic moment occurred in a big moment for the Huskers as the blustery conditions worsened. Emma Stevens, after corralling a loose ball, sent a kick down the field and carried the wind just outside the opposite 18-yard box. The high bouncer evaded the Indiana goalkeeper and found the back of the net for the first score by a goalkeeper in Nebraska soccer history as NU finished off the Hoosiers for a 3-1 final score and conference championship.
The match was very-evenly contested on the stat line as both squads posted 10 shots and four on target. Conroy led NU with three shots, while Katie Kraeutner, Caroline Gray and Johnson each recorded two attempts. Conroy and Jackson along with senior defenders Ari Romero and Maritza Hayes played all 90 minutes for the lockdown Nebraska defense.
Nebraska will make its second Big Ten Tournament appearance starting Wednesday, Nov. 6 as the No. 1 seeded Huskers will take on the to-be-determined No. 8 seed at 10:30 a.m. All games will be contested at the Illinois Soccer Stadium in Champaign, Ill. First round matches will be streamed on the Big Ten’s Digital Network, while the semifinals and championship matches will be shown live on the Big Ten Network and BTN2Go.com.