Rutgers seeks points in final road weekend
With eight points and three games remaining in conference play, the Rutgers women’s soccer team faces an uphill climb in the Big East National Division.
The Scarlet Knights (7-6-2, 2-4-2) also face the test of playing two of their final three games on the road, where the squad is 1-4-1 this season.
But the Knights’ road record is not a concern for head coach Glenn Crooks as the team heads into its final road weekend of the season.
“To be honest with you, out of those five or six road games I can only look back and say there was one where we were outplayed and did not play up to our standards,” Crooks said. “All the others we played very, very well. We just haven’t gotten the results.”
In order for the Knights to qualify for the Big East Championships, the results must come this weekend on the road.
And the offense, which scored only three goals in six road matches this season, has to score without the spark of sophomore forward Jonelle Filigno.
The Mississauga, Canada, native missed seven games while nursing an ankle injury and is unavailable tonight against Louisville (7-5-3, 4-1-2) and Sunday against Cincinnati (5-7-4, 1-5-2).
Crooks described the team’s leading scorer as being “week-to-week” and did not put a timetable on her return.
“It’s hard to say. It’s a very slow recovery,” he said. “She’s not going to travel this weekend.”
Filigno’s absence keeps the scoring burden on the Knights’ crop of young forwards, led by freshman Stefanie Scholz and junior Stefanee Pace.
Each player owns two goals this season, with Scholz breaking a five-match scoreless streak last Friday in the Knights’ 1-0 victory over DePaul.
Although the offense managed only four goals since Filigno’s injury Sept. 16, Scholz continues to record shots and is now third on the team with 23.
“After the West Virginia game the coaches told us we need to have a better mentality and get the ball more,” Scholz said. “I kind of took that into my own hands and tried to use my speed and get the forwards to try and get more shots off to score some more goals.”
But preventing goals is as challenging this weekend for the Knights, who are also without junior back Shannon Woeller.
Woeller is spending the week with the Canadian National Team and will miss time for the second consecutive year after playing with Team Canada.
While Woeller’s absence puts the defense in a bind, junior goalkeeper Jess Janosz is confident others can step up in Woeller’s stead.
“Shannon is definitely rock solid,” said Janosz, who made her first two career starts last weekend. “She’s one of those few players that logs all 90 minutes of a game and overtime, too. She just never needs a sub. It’s going to be tough, but we have good defenders that will definitely step up.”
Freshman defender Morgan Kennedy fills in for Woeller at center back in front of the Knights goal, but who will mind the net remains a tossup.
Janosz, who earned Big East Goalkeeper of the Week this week, posted consecutive clean sheets in her first career starts and may see more time this weekend away from Piscataway.
Crooks said he will not name a starter until the team arrives in Louisville, Ky., meaning junior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins, who started the previous 13 games, could return to the lineup.
“The thing to note is that I know that we have two very good keepers,” he said. “Either one that I put in I’ll have a high level of confidence in.”
With a date against the Cardinals, the top team in the National Division, and a trip to Cincinnati, six crucial points are at stake.
But the only thing Crooks worries about is his team and what it can control.
That means playing on the road, and the Knights’ 1-4-1 record away from Piscataway is a non-factor.
“The thing we focus on is that it’s all about us,” he said. “We know our situation … all we can do is win the games and get three points. Honestly, I haven’t looked at it very closely because I do know that with seven, eight or nine points it’s going to be rough.”