August 17, 2019 | 84° F

Early Exit

Photo by Andrew Howard |

The Rutgers women's soccer team washed out of the Big East Tournament on a late West Virginia goal, but are a lock to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA'Tournament, beginning next week.

The normally pristine Yurcak Field looked like a horse track after the downpour the night before yesterday's Big East Tournament quarterfinal match between the No. 9 Rutgers women's soccer team and West Virginia.

The pace of play was slower, each movement was more deliberate and scoring chances were few and far between for both teams.

The Scarlet Knights managed only two shots in the match. On West Virginia's 11th shot of the game, the Mountaineers scored the match's only goal. The goal — scored in the 86th minute — led to a 1-0 Rutgers loss, eliminating RU from the Big East Tournament.

"It's certainly disappointing," said Rutgers head coach Glenn Crooks. "But I think West Virginia was probably the better team out there today, so they deserved the win. I just think that some of the little things that you need to do in the game of soccer, we didn't take care of. So that's the disappointing part."

West Virginia's goal came after nearly an entire half of controlling the ball and keeping it inside of the Knights' zone.

The play was set up after a shot deflected off RU sophomore defender Julie Lancos and fell into West Virginia's Caralee Keppler's possession. With a clean look at the net, Keppler made a nice move and beat senior goalkeeper Erin Guthrie.

"I just think we let them come at us too much," said Guthrie, who saved seven shots in an otherwise solid performance. "The shot that went in was just a deflection, and they had numbers at the time. The only thing you can do at that point, as a goalkeeper, is just come out as big as you can, and that's what I tried to do, and I got a piece of it, but it still made it in."

The Knights (13-3-4) generated their strongest attack in the final minutes of the match, but couldn't crack the West Virginia back four.

"We had a great game plan; we just didn't put it to use," said redshirt junior forward Karla Schacher. "We should have held on to the ball more, let everyone else get forward instead of trying to go on our own and things like that."

RU managed only one shot to the Mountaineers' four in the first half. The Knights' only quality scoring chances in the first 45 minutes came when Lancos nearly netted a free kick in the ninth minute and on Schacher's breakaway in the 21st minute that was stopped before she got to the net.

Late in the half, the Mountaineers finally broke the Knights' back four, forcing Guthrie to make three saves in the half's final minutes — each save more impressive than the next.

The Mountaineers' (9-5-6) final shot on goal in the half came with 10 minutes remaining until halftime. West Virginia midfielder Bri Rodriguez made a nice move to get an open look on the left side of the net, she then crossed the ball to wide-open teammate Caroline Szwed.

Szwed took a shot at what appeared to be an open net, but Guthrie — making a spectacular adjustment on the ball — slid across the net and stopped the shot.

"The game was just disappointing," Guthrie said. "That's really the best way to describe it. It's a pretty empty feeling." 

Chris Melchiorre

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