RU begins conference play with two home contests
For head women’s soccer coach Glenn Crooks, the 7-1 start to the season coupled with a No. 16 national ranking for the Scarlet Knights is everything he could ask for.
With the Knights entertaining Big East opponents Villanova and Georgetown this weekend, Crooks understands that 7-1 record means nothing now.
To the 12th-year head coach, tonight marks a new season, what he calls the “second season.”
“It’s our next one,” Crooks said about beginning Big East play. “We are now on to our second season of Big East games and it is just a different level of intensity, and I think both of these teams will bring in a lot of confidence.”
For the Knights to begin Big East play 2-0, they first face a Villanova team that enters Friday night’s match at Yurcak field with a dramatic 3-2 win against La Salle under its belt.
The Wildcats were down to La Salle, 2-0, in the second half, but managed to rattle off three late-game goals, the final one coming from Villanova’s Victoria Gersh in the last 10 minutes of play.
While the win represented only the second victory on the year for the Wildcats, Rutgers cannot afford to come out slow against Villanova tonight.
The Knights have scored only one goal this season in the first half, the lone early strike coming in the 23rd minute from freshman forward Amanda Devolk in their 4-1 loss to Texas A&M.
Though Rutgers has won despite not finding the back of the net in the first half, the majority of those goals have come from last minute strikes to put the Knights over the top.
And with just one goal scorer — junior forward Jonelle Filigno — with more than one goal this season, the Knights simply cannot get away with escaping on late game heroics during Big East play.
Rutgers has worked on finding consistency in its lineup all season, and Crooks believes that he has found a solid rotation for league play.
“The biggest thing for us is building the relationships on the field,” Crooks said. “Early on, we used a lot of different combinations and now it is starting to sort itself out a bit. There is still competition at every position which is great.”
Rutgers’ greatest challenge arrives Sunday, when Georgetown comes to Piscataway.
The Hoyas won six straight matches dating back to the start of the season before tying with Santa Clara and losing to Stanford 6-0 to enter conference play.
Georgetown’s loss to Stanford was an abnormality, as the Hoyas feature the second highest scoring offense in the league with 47 points and 17 goals.
They also feature a one-two scoring punch in forwards Kaitlin Brenn and Daphne Corboz.
Brenn leads the team with five goals and Corboz is close behind with four.
Crooks knows both players very well, as he recruited both to come play for Rutgers, he said.
Corboz’s brother, Mael, is a freshman on the Rutgers men’s soccer team and leads them with two goals.
“I know both of them quite well,” Crooks said. “We knew Daphne for years. Her and her family have been coming to Rutgers games for years, so it will be nice to see both those kids, and I realize that they are two really good players.”
With both teams presenting a challenge for the Knights, Crooks realizes that it will be hard for his team to escape the weekend with both wins, and he is fine with that.
“We certainly hope we are 2-0 at the end of the week,” Crooks said. “However, if it doesn’t work out that, way we can’t be overly concerned. You want to do that but the statistics say that it is difficult, so I’m not going to lay all this pressure on the team that we have to be 2-0 this weekend.”