July 15, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers shoots for season’s first conference victory

Photo by Lawrence Cabredo |

Junior forward Jonelle Filigno leads the Knights this season with eight goals. Her penalty strike last Friday against Villanova was Rutgers’ most recent goal.

In what Rutgers head women’s soccer coach Glenn Crooks called “Season 1,” or the out-of-conference schedule, the Scarlet Knights got off to a 7-1 start despite scoring only one goal in the first half of any game.

The Knights relied on the heroics of late scoring — spearheaded by junior forward Jonelle Filigno, who constantly found space in Rutgers’ opposing defenses to score — along with the their ability to convert late in matches.

The Big East season has produced different results, as Rutgers owns a 0-2 record and sits in seventh place in the Big East National Division.

While Crooks was disappointed in the Knights’ results last weekend, he sees no reason for the team to look back on those matches negatively.

Photo: Marielle Sumergido

Senior defender Shannon Woeller anchors a back four that tries to aid Rutgers in ending a two-game Big East losing streak.

“I would say that if we worry about the fact that we lost the past two games, then I don’t think Friday or Sunday will go well,” Crooks said. “We live in the present and don’t live in the past, so right now we are preparing for [South Florida].”

Crooks would not pinpoint exactly what the team would work on in preparation for the weekend, but pointed to the fact that there is always room for improvement.

“The atmosphere is great,” Crooks said. “But it was a very difficult week result-wise. The biggest thing in training this week is that we stay together on the things we need to work on.”

The Knights put their hard world on display tomorrow, when South Florida visits Rutgers (7-3, 0-2).

The Bulls (4-3-1, 0-0-1) feature a zero in the Big East win column, as well, but their record has no effect on what the team can bring to the field, Crooks said.

“They are a very good team,” Crooks said. “They are strong, physical and an excellent attacking team.”

Forward Sharla Passariello leads the attack. She is currently third in the league in shot attempts this season with 37 and tops in shots per game with a 4.62 shot average in eight contests.

Rutgers held Villanova to only seven attempts and Georgetown to 15, but both games resulted in losses.

Senior defender Shannon Woeller knows how important it is for the team to play for an entire 90 minutes, especially with a player like Passariello, who gets off plenty of shots.

“We just need to know to stay focused for 100 percent of the time,” Woeller said. “In both matches we had our chances, but we weren’t focused to finish them, so the other teams took advantage of our mistakes.”

And while getting on the board first is ideal for any team, Crooks is not concerned at the moment with the lack of scoring in the first period, given the team’s track record of producing better results in the second half of games.

“We are not going to be worried or frustrated about it,” Crooks said. “We are going to be deliberate when we work on it. I’m not worried about it.”

The Knights’ other opponent this weekend comes Sunday, when Rutgers faces Marquette, currently second in the Big East American Division.

One of the high-scoring teams in the league, the Golden Eagles (5-2-1, 1-0) are tied for third in goals scored and sixth in shot attempts.

“They have been a top-15 program the past three years,” Crooks said. “They are relentless in their attacking. They are strong on all parts of the field and play a solid game.”

Rutgers features the talent on both sides of the ball to pull off victories in both games, but Filigno knows it will take a better effort than last week’s performance to get a win before the Knights begin a four-game road swing.

“You can never let up for a second,” Filigno said. “We can’t stop, we have to keep going.”

For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.

By Bradly Derechailo

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