The Nebraska soccer team beat Indiana to clinch the Big Ten regular-season title.
A week later, the top-seeded Huskers can reach the tournament championship with another victory over the fourth-seeded Hoosiers.
The teams meet at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at the University of Illinois. Surprise winner Iowa and defending champion Penn State meet in the other semifinal at 11 a.m. Both matches will be shown on the Big Ten Network.
“It’s so hard to beat a team twice,” Nebraska forward Stacy Bartels said. “They are a good team.”
Both teams took 10 shots in the regular-season finale. Indiana (14-5-1) showed some firepower with a 5-3 victory over Illinois on Wednesday. Scoring leader Lisa Nouanesengsy picked up her 11th goal.
It was the Hoosiers’ first win in the conference tournament since 1996.
“Getting this win is absolutely huge for our program,” Indiana coach Amy Berbary said. “We talked this morning as a team and we all agreed that we are not done playing yet.”
The Huskers aren’t either. After shooting for the regular-season title all season, they’ve shifted their goal to the tournament title. As coach John Walker told them at practice earlier this week, it’s just another level and another step.
“We need to keep playing our game and we’ll be fine,” said Mayme Conroy, who scored two goals Wednesday in the 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Minnesota.
Bartels and fellow senior Jordan Jackson also scored for the Huskers, who are 13-0-1 when scoring two or more goals.
The 18th-ranked Huskers (16-3-1) didn’t get rattled after giving up a goal in the first minute against the Gophers. Instead, they put their heads down and played hard.
That’s the game plan for Friday, too.
“Any tournament, the first game is the hardest to get. Now we’ve got that first game under our belt,” Bartels said. “We were focused. We just have to keep going.”