RU held scoreless in consecutive conference contests
The Rutgers women’s soccer team enters each weekend with the same goal of winning both games.
Junior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins even upped the ante last week, exuding confidence in the team’s ability to shut out both Pittsburgh and No. 25 West Virginia in consecutive matches.
But the Scarlet Knights’ lofty goals did not match the weekend’s results, as they played Pittsburgh to a scoreless draw Friday and dropped a 1-0 overtime thriller to the Mountaineers yesterday in Morgantown, W.Va.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Simpkins said after a five-save performance against the Mountaineers. “We tied Pittsburgh when we shouldn’t have, and we battled through West Virginia and should’ve come out on top. We’re disappointed, but we’re not going to break and we’re going to get ready for next weekend.”
With yesterday’s loss, the Knights (6-4-1, 1-2-1) now face an uphill climb in the Big East National Division.
Rutgers stands at sixth in the division through its first four conference games, failing to score in consecutive contests for the first time this season.
The loss also gives the Knights a three-game winless streak, dating back to the team’s second Big East contest resulting in a 4-1 loss to Georgetown.
Georgetown is now in first place in the National Division.
“I still feel confident — we had so many opportunities,” Simpkins said. “We’ve got the youngsters up top — the freshman up top that are trying to fill those shoes right now — and they’ve done an awesome job. The only advice I have for them is to keep their heads up and not get down on themselves.”
The Knights again had plenty of opportunities, and Crooks was first to acknowledge the squad’s scoring changes.
But with sophomore forward Jonelle Filigno out for both contests with an ankle injury, Crooks relied on a pair of freshmen and an inexperienced sophomore to help lead the attack.
Sophomore Maria Gerew, who scored her only career goal last week, earned arguably the two best scoring opportunities of the game only five minutes into play.
Freshman forward Stefanie Scholz sent the ball into the box for Gerew, who fired a shot at West Virginia (8-3, 4-0) goalkeeper Sara Keane. The rebound deflected back to the Toms River, N.J., native, but her second shot fluttered high and bounced off the crossbar.
“In both matches we hit every single post, crossbar, everything we can get,” Gerew said. “It’s frustrating, but we just need to keep working hard.”
Tying with Pitt (1-7-4, 0-2-2) was as demoralizing, as the Panthers scored in only four of their 12 games this season.
The ineffectiveness on offense set up well for Crooks’ attack, even with Filigno out of the lineup with an injured ankle.
But the Knights never capitalized despite outshooting the Panthers, 17-11, with five of those shots reaching the hands of Pitt goalkeeper Kristina Rioux.
“We got behind the defense. We’ve just got to finish,” Gerew said.
The Knights return to Piscataway on Friday to face St. John’s and Syracuse, two teams who had success of their own early in the conference season.
And if they plan on attaining their six-point goal next weekend at Yurcak Field, the Knights’ margin for error is slim to none, Crooks said.
“Right now [in] our homes matches [there is] no margin for error — none,” Crooks said. “We’ve got to get it done at home.”