Behnke’s goal lifts Milwaukee to league title
Vienna Behnke scored in the 13th minute and the defense did the rest from there as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women’s soccer team clinched the Horizon League Championship Friday with a 1-0 victory over Oakland University at OU Soccer Field.
This marks the 14th-consecutive year the Panthers have claimed the Horizon League crown, the longest active streak in women’s soccer.
Milwaukee finishes the regular season with an 8-8-1 overall record, including a 6-1-0 mark in conference play. Oakland falls to 9-8-1 overall, 4-3-0 in the league.
Milwaukee head coach Greg Henschel’s post game comments View full size on YouTube
UWM will now host the conference tournament, starting with Friday’s semifinal matchup.
“Oakland is just a really, really good side and they have some great players. They created some great chances. Give them a lot of credit for the match they brought to us tonight,” Milwaukee head coach Greg Henschel said. “I give our team a lot of credit for coming out on top of a good team like that. I’m really pleased with the result. I think we would have liked a better second half out of our team, but I think we played well in the second half we just didn’t play as well as we can and as well as we usually do. I’m really proud of the team for finding that result tonight. They were not easy conditions to find that result.”
With both teams feeling each other out early, Behnke saw the game’s first chance and pounced on it. The junior forced a turnover near the OU end line, beat her defender and then calmly slotted the ball near post to beat the keeper.
“We’ve been seeing that type of moment from Vienna all season,” Henschel said. “I was really glad to see her capitalize on that moment and make it hers and it was just a fantastic finish and a great individual effort on her part.”
Milwaukee looked like it was going to add to their goal total shortly after Behnke’s blast. Krissy Dorre was sprung behind the defense and had the keeper one-on-one but was called offside. Then, Dorre played a through ball to spring Kelly Lewers, but the side judge again raised his flag at the last moment for the offside call.
From there, the Panther defense took over. Milwaukee was dominant on the back line all night long, limiting the Grizzlies to just 11 shots with keeper Paige Lincicum tallying five big saves on the night, none bigger than her save of Joan Sieja’s blast from point-blank range in the 73rd minute.
“Our team is really starting to engage the game a little bit differently,” Henschel said. “I think it does cause teams, even good teams like Oakland, problems. Our defending was really quite good tonight. Of course there are areas we’re going to work to improve, but our group is working very well and with great concentration.
Milwaukee will now host the Horizon League Tournament. As the No. 1 seed, the Panthers will play the host to the lowest remaining seed Friday, Nov. 8.
“Again, I’m really proud of this team for all that they’ve achieved. To maintain their position on the top of the conference this year was not easy,” Henschel said. “If you look at our roster, you know how many young kids we have on this team and I think it bodes well for the future because we had one senior in the starting lineup tonight and I’m looking forward to our team continuing to strengthen themselves in the offseason and adding our recruits next year is only going to strengthen us. Having said that, I think the seniors need to be recognized. They have really done a lot for this team over their four years and, I will say this, I’m proud to keep that Horizon streak alive for people like Michael Moynihan and David Nikolic because that is a pretty neat thing that they’ve created and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”