August 17, 2019 | 84° F

Crooks calls for NCAA to address road trips

Rutgers women's soccer head coach Glenn Crooks has never been one to make excuses for his team, and Sunday's 0-0 draw with South Florida was no different.

Crooks was adamant about it after the match. In his view, what he witnessed was a great battle where both teams left everything they had on the pitch. The result was fair, and he was more than happy with his team's effort.

But the condition of both teams after two overtimes in 90-degree heat did bring something else to the coach's attention.

For Crooks, the match in Tampa shed light on what's becoming a glaring problem in women's college soccer.

"Watching that game, I think both teams did the very best that they possibly could," he said. "But what it really did, in an alarming way, was just show that the Friday-Sunday rhythm is too much, and with this trip in particular."

The Scarlet Knights' weekend started with a Friday trip to Marquette for a match with the Golden Eagles. According to Crooks, his team played energized, sharp soccer and the result was a 3-1 road victory against a tough Big East opponent.

While that same dedication was there on Sunday, external factors came into play for both teams.

"It's part of the Friday-Sunday rhythm of the Big East," Crooks said. "We've been doing this for years, where the Friday game was sharp and the mobility is good and then Sunday [we struggle]."

By all accounts even South Florida, coming off a 1-0 win over Seton Hall at home Friday, was dragging toward the end of the match in the face of extreme weather.

"If anybody saw this, it was a good battle and I think both teams did very well under the conditions," Crooks said. "But we really had to fight and both teams were out there just trying to gut it out."

The solution, according to Crooks, is a move toward a Thursday-Sunday schedule in the conference.

"I think there needs to be serious look by administrators," Crooks said. "One of the things that I want to do as a head coach in the Big East is look very closely into the Thursday-Sunday rhythm of Big East play."

But for Crooks, now in his 10th season at the helm, watching his team embark on such a grueling road trip this weekend simply served to reignite an issue that many think needs to be resolved.

"It just kind of hit me [Sunday] that it's crazy," he said. "When we talk about student athletes welfare [it needs to be taken into consideration]."


Chris Melchiorre

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