Ivys represent building blocks for postseason success
With just two games remaining in its nonconference schedule, the Rutgers women's soccer team has little time to forge the necessary foundation prior to its Big East season.
Some of the bricks have been laid, evidenced in the Scarlet Knights' three victories to date and tightly contested games against No. 15 Boston College and No. 6 UCLA.
But in entertaining a pair of Ivy Leaguers this weekend, the final two bricks are put into play for head coach Glenn Crooks and Co.
Now the Knights just have to keep building.
"The thing I like is that every day has gotten a little better, whether it's in training or in our matches," Crook said. "We've progressed well and the mentality of the team right now is very good,"
First up for Rutgers is Yale (1-0-2), which arrives in Piscataway unbeaten.
The Bulldogs own ¬¬¬just one win in three matches while averaging a goal per game, but boast just two players with goals to their name.
Their leading scorer, freshman Meredith Speck, notched two goals through the first three games of her rookie campaign and tallied six of the team's 34 shots.
Rutgers' defense, captained by junior back Shannon Woeller, has done well in suppressing offenses at home this season, allowing a combined 11 shots in those games.
Still, Crooks remembers the room for growth his team displayed defensively in a 1-0 home-opening win against Drexel and in a 4-1 victory against Fordham. Countless times the Knights lacked pressure in their ball control, while also turning the ball over to their opponents at various moments.
Making similar mistakes may not be so kind to the Knights against their Ivy League foes, especially not against the upcoming Big East competition.
"You've got to win at home," Crooks said. "You've got to take care of business at home. In our home opener we didn't play good soccer, we didn't defend well, and it was just kind of a ho-hum match. I think we're ready now to step up both of those us."
The Knights close their Ivy League weekend against Dartmouth on Sunday, but by that time Crooks should know how well his team tackled its nonconference schedule.
And if not Sunday, then surely next Friday, when the Knights begin laying the foundation for a conference championship run.
"I've heard a lot of players talk about the conference," Crooks said. "I know they're ready. It all happens fast, but we've got a big weekend this weekend. We've got to take care of the intellect from the Ivy's then take care of business from