Champaign, Ill – The top-seeded Nebraska soccer team faced an early deficit for second straight match but used three second-half goals to defeat No. 4 seed Indiana by a 3-1 margin on Friday in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. NU’s season-best eighth consecutive win locked up a spot in Sunday’s title match against the No. 7 seed Iowa.
Freshman Jaycie Johnson recorded two goals in the match for the third time in her debut season with the Huskers (17-3-1). Johnson’s 12 goals on the year leads the Huskers as the All-Big Ten Second Team selection becomes just the 12th NU player to at least score two goals in a conference tournament match. The speedy forward recorded a season-high five shots on goal as she played 80 minutes.
The Huskers will be making their seventh appearance in a conference tournament championship match and first since 2002. The Scarlet and Cream are 5-1 all-time in league tournament finals. NU will try to lock up both regular-season and tournament tiles for the fourth time in school history with the last coming in 2000. Friday’s semifinal match was Nebraska’s 280th victory on the pitch.
Indiana (14-6-1) jumped out quickly as Bekah White sent a sharp ball into the upper right corner of the goal at the 7:26 mark for the early 1-0 edge. NU keeper Emma Stevens got a hand on the attempt but the shot found the back of the net to put NU in an early hole.
Johnson’s equalizer less than two minutes into the second half put Nebraska on the board after senior Jordan Jackson found the freshman with a pass ahead into the box. Johnson managed to put the ball away upper 90 to tie the match 1-1 as NU used the wind to its advantage in the final 45 minutes.
A few minutes later, Johnson gained the box running to her left before she was taken down for a penalty kick chance. However, Jackson’s PK opportunity floated high of the crossbar in the 54th minute.
In the 68th minute, senior defender Kylie Greischar dribbled through the defense along the top of the box and fired a left-footed bouncer which found its way through the IU defense to give Nebraska its first lead of the match, 2-1. The game-winning score for the Overland Park, Kan. native was the first of her career as Nebraska gained momentum.
As Indiana looked for the equalizer in the pressure-packed final minutes, Johnson’s second goal of the match came after an excellent pass from sophomore Katie Kraeutner down the left side to beat the defender and dribble by the keeper for the tap-in for a 3-1 lead to put the match away.
The Huskers have now won 17 matches for the first time since 2001. Nebraska has won 15 of its last 16 matches for the first time since 2002 when NU rattled off 22 of its first 23 matches. NU has now scored in 18 consecutive matches, its longest streak since 2000 when Nebraska scored in its first 23 contests. The Scarlet and Cream are 14-0-1 when scoring 2 or more goals this season.
The NU defense was strong once again as Indiana outshot Nebraska by an 18-13 margin. Big Ten Defender of the Year Ari Romero made several fine plays to deny Indiana on her way to playing all 90 minutes along with her fellow defender Maritza Hayes. Jackson also worked all 90 minutes as she recorded her 28th career assist, which is seventh best in school history.
Nebraska will face the No. 7 seed Iowa on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1:00 p.m. in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament Championship match. The Hawkeyes defeated Penn State by a 1-0 margin in the first semifinal contest on Friday. The title match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.