Road trip stands in way of RU, second place
There are number of scenarios that could play out this weekend for the ninth-ranked Rutgers women's soccer team.
But the Scarlet Knights know one thing for certain: If they win both of their games, they'll play at home in the Big East tournament.
"That would be amazing if we got to play one more home game," said senior goalkeeper Erin Guthrie. "For some of my family members to be able to see me one other time would be really special. But it's not always a given."
The Knights (12-2-3, 6-1-2) have 20 Big East points, putting them just five away from No. 6 Notre Dame, the first place team in the Big East National Division.
RU is not mathematically out of the race for first place, but a more likely scenario is that the Knights finish second, earning them a first round bye and a home game in the second round of the conference tournament.
Georgetown poses the biggest threat to that plan as the Hoyas sit just one point behind RU in the standings.
With only two games remaining in the regular season, if Georgetown loses one game and Rutgers wins one game, the Knights clinch second place.
That scenario seems even more plausible when you consider the matchups of Georgetown and Rutgers this weekend. Georgetown plays DePaul this weekend and conference juggernaut Notre Dame — a team riding a 61-game unbeaten streak in the conference. RU plays Cincinnati this weekend and Louisville — two teams that combine for only three conference wins this season.
But, as usual, the Knights are not taking anything for granted.
"Playing away at Louisville … my sophomore year … was the hardest game I've ever played," Guthrie said. "Just because of the atmosphere there, it's a very tough environment to play in. And Cincinnati is a great team. So we just have to work our butts off, and hopefully it will pay off for this weekend."
Guthrie is this week's Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after recording clean sheets against Syracuse and St. John's last week. She is the anchor of a defense that has only allowed three goals in its last nine games.
"[For] both of the games this weekend, I didn't really have to come up with any big-time saves," Guthrie said. "So I get the credit for the Big East keeper of the week, but really that's a defensive award."
The RU defense, which also includes one of this week's Big East honorable mentions, senior Jenifer Anzivino, have shut out four of their last five opponents. In 17 games this season, the Knights have only allowed seven goals.
"We control our own destiny," Guthrie said. "We've had some great practices this week. But going away makes it a lot harder. But I think that if we stay focused and work hard, I'm really confident that we'll win both games."