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Husker Soccer Dumps Hoosiers to Claim Big Ten Title

Goals from Mayme Conroy, Jaycie Johnson and keeper Emma Stevens propel the Huskers to their first regular season conference title since 2000.

Jon Johnston

First Half

The match kicked under partly cloudy skies with slightly windy conditions.  Six senior Nebraska Soccer players were honored on Senior Day before kickoff: Goalkeeper Emma Stevens, defender Ari Romero, defender Kylie Greischar, defender Maritza Hayes, midfielder Stacy Bartels and forward Jordan Jackson.  There was a lot of action on both sides of the field early as both teams probed the ball through the midfield to create scoring chances.  Both defenses did a good job of snuffing out through balls and counterattacks.  In the 15th minute, Kayleigh Steigerwalt took a shot from a tough angle that went past Emma Stevens but flashed by the right post.

After Jaycie Johnson was fouled outside the penalty area, Caroline Gray took a shot off an indirect free kick in the 27th minute that was comfortably saved by Shannon Flower.  In the 34th minute, the Huskers struck on the counterattack.  Jordan Jackson collected the ball after the clearance from a corner and stormed down the right wing dribbling past a couple defenders.  Jackson put in a cross that was just out of Jaycie Johnson's reach but was controlled in the box by Mayme Conroy who had all the time in the world to smash the ball into the net for her eighth goal of the season. 1-0 Huskers.  A Big Ten regular season title was in their grasp.

Indiana started to gain more control of the ball after the Nebraska goal but the Huskers had the best chance before halftime when a Caroline Gray free kick floated over the crossbar.  Despite a pretty balanced first half, the Huskers went into the break holding a 1-0 lead.

Second Half

Indiana got off to a hot start in the second half when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 47th minute when Ari Romero made a foul inside the penalty area on Rebecca Candler.  Indiana's leading goal scorer Lisa Nouanesengsy converted the spot kick with a low shot in the bottom left corner and the game was knotted up at 1-1.  A few minutes later another Indiana cross was headed by Jordan Woolums but it went just wide of the post.  Nebraska started to gain more possession of the ball but weren't able to make anything of it.  In the 63rd minute, after a giveaway in midfield the ball was put into Jordan Woolums who was able to cut towards the middle and get a nice shot away but Emma Stevens was equal to the task stretching over her head to snatch the ball out of the air.  Four minutes later Nebraska snatched the lead back.

Under the windy conditions, freshman Courtney Claassen put in a deep cross from the right wing and another freshman Jaycie Johnson ran onto the end of the cross in the box and flicked it with her foot into the bottom right corner to make it 2-1 Nebraska.  It was Jaycie's tenth goal of the season and it put the Huskers in the driver seat again in the Big Ten title race.  The Huskers began to sit back a bit more after the goal but they managed to defend very well whatever Indiana was throwing at them.

In the 85th minute, after playing around with the ball, Emma Stevens controlled the ball before picking it up and drop kicking the ball out of her penalty area.  The wind carried the ball deep into the Indiana half before taking a big bounce and sailing over the head of the Indiana keeper into the back of the net.  It took four years but Emma Stevens finally got her first goal as a Husker on Senior Day.

The game winded down and the moment had come.  Nebraska claimed the Big Ten regular season title and the #1 seed going into the Big Ten Tournament.  What a year Nebraska Women's Soccer!

Post-Game Notes

-In the rarest of soccer achievements, a goalkeeper scored in a soccer match.  A strong wind coming from the west in the second half led to the ball carrying much farther than Indiana goalkeeper Shannon Flower had anticipated.  What a moment for Emma Stevens!

-Freshman Courtney Claassen had a nice cameo role in this match earning 25 minutes of playing time, she played a key role with the assist in the game winning goal.  I expect the native from Parkville, Missouri to get a lot more playing time next season as she creates a lot of havoc for defenders on the wing with her pace and creativity.

-Both teams had ten shots a piece and four shots on target in the match.  Emma Stevens made three saves in the match to extend all-time lead to 257 career saves as a Husker and topped it off with a crazy goal from inside her own penalty area.

-With today's victory, Nebraska finished on top of the Big Ten Standings with 30 points and a 10-1 record, ending Penn State's 15 year reign as Big Ten regular season champions.  This is Nebraska's first regular season conference title since 2000.  The Huskers will have the #1 seed going into next week's Big Ten Tournament in Champaign, Illinois.  The tournament schedule will be released later this weekend with matches being played on November 6th, 8th and 10th.  Friday's semifinal matches and Sunday's championship match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.