Winless weekend brings Rutgers back to basics
After Syracuse’s Cecilia Borgstrom tapped a deflected cross by Tina Romagnuolo past Rutgers women’s soccer goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins in double-overtime yesterday at Yurcak Field, the entire Scarlet Knights sideline stood staring in disbelief.
The goal gave the Orange a 2-1 victory, the Knights their third consecutive defeat and shifted head coach Glenn Crooks’ focus from attaining a Big East Championship berth to simply fixing his sputtering team.
“I’m not really focused on Big East goals, I’m just focused on getting us better,” Crooks said. “Once again it’s [an] overtime game, and in all those games we’ve had opportunities in regulation to finish it off. You could say we were the better team in those games, but it’s the finished product, it’s the final result.”
As was a common theme in the Knights prior four contests — a span in which Rutgers lost three and tied one — scoring opportunities came in abundance yesterday at Yurcak Field, especially in the waning moments of play.
Freshman forward Stephanie Scholz tallied the Knights’ final three shots of regulation — she had four total — with two of them coming in the final four minutes of the second half. Her final two chances occurred on breakaways that pulled Syracuse goalkeeper Brittany Anghel out of the net, giving Scholz clear seams at goals.
But both shots sailed wide left, leaving Scholz alone in front of the net with her hands on her head in disbelief.
“She’s working so hard,” Crooks said. “As long as she keeps working the way she’s working I’m not thinking about taking her off unless she needs a break for a rest. She’s causing so much havoc and she’s creating so many opportunities for her team and … I’m sure she’ll say, ‘This is ridiculous, I’ve got to finish those.’ But it doesn’t come automatically.”
Senior midfielder Ashley Medcalf scored her first goal of the season after coming out of the gates hot for Crooks, tallying four of the team’s first six shots.
The Waipahu, Hawaii native’s score came in the game’s 12th minute on a corner kick sent in by senior defender Julie Lancos. Syracuse failed to clear the kick right away, which gave Medcalf a shot at the lower right of the net to beat Anghel.
The goal was the first for Rutgers in its last 381 minutes of action.
“It was nice to get my first goal, but I just wish we would have had a better result,” said Medcalf, who played all 103 minutes. “It’s tough, but we’re going to get through this. We’ll be all right.”
After the Orange tied the contest 10 minutes later, the Knights could not come back to win in regulation.
Finding the finisher against St. John’s on Friday also proved difficult for the Knights’ front third. Despite outshooting the Johnnies, 23-4, the Knights could not score the equalizer after falling behind early to the Red Storm in the team’s first of five consecutive games in Piscataway.
Junior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins did her best to keep the Knights in both contests, making crucial saves in the second half against Syracuse and the only save by either keeper in the first overtime of the same game.
Overall, the Concord, N.C., native made seven saves in the losses, allowing two goals or more for just the third time this season in yesterday’s loss to Syracuse.
“Emmy’s been solid all year,” Crooks said. “She made a tremendous reaction save off a flick header [on the first goal]. That was a marking problem and I don’t know who lost their mark, but they’ve got to be called out. We’ll look at the last goal too. We haven’t loss these games because of our goalkeeper.”
The Knights plan on doing the only thing they can after a four-game winless streak: Get better during this week of practice before continuing their conference homestand on Friday against DePaul.
With six points eluding them in each of their past two weekends, the Knights’ postseason chances are in serious jeopardy with five games remaining in Big East season.
But the team will fight on, according to Medcalf.
“This whole week we’re just going to focus on the next two home games,” Medcalf said. “We’re taking it one game at a time and we just half to come out with results in both games — six points and we’ll just go from there.”