Rutgers Women’s Soccer keeps rolling with victory over Iowa
While Rutgers football fans have had a tough three weeks watching their school against the likes of ranked Big Ten foes such as Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, one squad on campus has been battling conference opponents with positive results: Rutgers Women’s Soccer. Led by MAC Hermann Trophy candidate, senior Frankie Tagliaferri, the fortunes of the Scarlet Knights have been carried by the Colts Neck, NJ native, who is currently the NCAA’s current active career leader in games played.
Heading into today’s game with Iowa at Yurcak Field, the No. 8 ranked Scarlet Knights were boasting a 10-2 overall mark, and a perfect 5-0 record in conference. Aside from a mid-September stumble that saw back-to-back one-goal losses against Princeton and #24 Georgetown, the Knights have allowed just four goals in their last six games, which saw them go 6-0 over that stretch, including two hard fought road wins at Minnesota and Ohio State, and a commanding 4-1 victory over #16 Michigan.
And now, you can make that seven straight.
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A penalty kick off the foot of Becci Fluchel past Iowa netminder Monica Wilhelm at minute 75:00 provided the only goal of the game, and the Scarlet Knights remained perfect in conference play, defeating the Hawkeyes by a score of 1-0 in the rain at Piscataway. It was the sophomore midfielder’s second goal of the season. The play was set up due to a foul by Iowa forward Aleisha Ganief.
The Hawkeyes could muster only six shots against the Knights for the entire contest, as the Rutgers women continuously denied the Hawkeyes open looks at the net. The stifling Rutgers defense allowed the Hawkeyes to put a minimal number of shots on Knights goalie Meagan McClelland, who had just three saves in the game. Starting defenders Emily Mason, Kassidy Banks and Emma Misal choked off the Hawkeye attacks, however, when it counted most, McClelland made a game-saving play against a shot by Hawkeyes freshman forward Kenzie Roling with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
In contrast, the Knights fifth-ranked scoring offense managed 27 shots in the game with 12 finding their way through to Wilhelm. While Midfielders Frankie Tagliaferri and Samantha Kroeger led the Scarlet offense, Iowa’s redshirt junior goalie repeatedly turned back the Rutgers attack. Tagliaferri, the team’s leading scorer (10 goals, 6 assists, 26 points) attempted six shots during the contest, followed closely by Samantha Kroeger (5 goals, 2 assists, 12 points) with five shots and Riley Tiernan (4 goals, 7 assists, 15 points) with four. The defense allowed the Hawkeyes’ three top scorers, forwards Alyssa Walker, Kenzie Roling and midfielder Hailey Rydberg to a total of three shots in the game.
With Fluchel’s winning score, the Pittstown, NJ native saw Rutgers improve to 3 out of 4 on penalty kicks this season helping senior goaltender Meagan McClelland raise her record to 11-2-0 on the season.
With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Scarlet Knights will travel to College Park, Maryland to face the Terrapins (4-6-4) on Thursday, October 14 before returning home to Yurcak Field on Sunday, October 17 to square off against Michigan State (9-1-3) in their final home game. The team will play its final two games on the road against Indiana (9-2-3) and Illinois (5-7-1).
Head Coach Mike O’Neill has the Knights peaking at the right time of the season. With only two opponents left on the schedule with winning records, Rutgers stands in good position to make noise with a postseason bid when the Big Ten Tournament commences on October 31st.