Late goal saves West Coast trip before Big East
After 70 minutes of scratching and clawing, junior captain Tricia DiPaolo found a way to put the ball behind Washington's goalkeeper Sunday afternoon, giving the Sparta, N.J., native her first career goal. A game earlier against No. 4 Portland, DiPaolo managed only one meager shot.
DiPaolo's two-game performance was a microcosm of the No. 24 Rutgers women's soccer team's weekend at the Nike Invitational, in which the Scarlet Knights (5-2) fell, 2-1, to Portland Friday and bounced back with a 1-0 victory Sunday over the Huskies (4-2-1).
"For Tricia to be on top of that second ball on top of [redshirt freshman] Jonelle [Filigno's] first ball — that's what it's all about on set pieces," said head coach Glenn Crooks. "The fact is Tricia was in the right spot for her efforts."
The play began when junior back Julie Lancos sent a corner that connected with Filigno, who headed the ball at the Huskies' netminder. After deflecting off the keeper, the ball came to DiPaolo, who completed the sequence of events with the game's only — albeit ambiguous — goal.
"I don't know where [the ball] hit Tricia, it hit her and went in," said Filigno, whose assist gave her a team-leading eight points on the year. "She just kind of dove into it and it deflected off of her and went in. No one really saw exactly how it happened."
The shutout earned the Knights their fourth goose egg of the season, due in part to the return of sophomore back Shannon Woeller, back from a stint with the Canadian National Team.
"Shannon's essential to our back line," Crooks said. "Shannon's like a pro to me. She does all the right things. We're not as good a team without Shannon, but I can say that about a lot of the players in our program."
Portland, however, spoiled Woeller's first game back since a season-opening win on Aug. 20, over Stony Brook. The Knights fell to the Pilots on Friday night in Portland, Ore., in front of a raucous crowd of 3,103.
The score remained even at 1, until an 84th-minute header by the Pilots' Halley Kreminski trumped sophomore goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins' best efforts.
The tally was a product of a late-game surge for Portland (7-0), in which they dominated possession during the match's last 10 minutes.
"We had really been playing well and pressing [Portland] for most of the game," Woeller said. "And then in the last 10 minutes, I guess people were getting tired. I don't know, I'm not sure what happened. We really need to stick together in those last 10 minutes from now on."
The Pilots' Micaela Capelle got Portland on the scoreboard first in the 15th minute after a low shot found the back of the net.
Junior captain Karla Schacher responded 12 minutes later with her second goal of the season.
Schacher's first half tally translated early into the second period of play, as the Knights controlled the offensive tempo until Portland regrouped.
"Portland is one of the best teams in the nation," Crooks said. "They're going to press you and they'll exploit those kinds of situations and ultimately they did."
Portland outshot Rutgers by a 15-8 mark — the first time this season that Crooks' team did not register more shots than its opponent. Simpkins battled constant duress late in the second half, making a career-high six saves in the loss.
Portland's domination of the stat sheet ended with corners taken, in which the Pilots registered five total — four in the second half — to Rutgers' one.
After a 1-1 weekend against two talented teams — one a two-time NCAA champion, the other a Pac-10 challenger — the Knights head into the meat of their schedule, featuring a matchup at Yurcak Field against No. 5 Boston College and their annual reunion with the Big East.
"I thought this weekend was one of the reasons we play games outside of our league like this to get ready for our league schedule," Crooks said. "We've been ready to play these games for several years now.
"Against the Stanfords and Notre Dames and Portlands, we have to be able to be the ones to finish it off at the end. And I think we're getting closer to that."