Filigno closes in on score mark
When Jonelle Filigno found out she earned Big East Player of the Week honors this week, she was more excited that the conference selected her teammate, senior defender Tricia DiPaolo, to its honor roll.
But the recognition is still special for the Rutgers women’s soccer team’s junior forward.
“Obviously it is an honor, and I’m always striving to individually break records but also as a team, as well,” Filigno said. “It is always an honor and it feels amazing to get things like that.”
The nod by the conference was the third for Filigno, the most a Scarlet Knight has been recognized by the league in a season in school history.
“I believe Jonelle is one of the best players in our conference and one of the better players in the country,” said head coach Glenn Crooks. “Part of that is her talent, part of that is her work ethic, part of that is her international experience and you add all that up and you get a great player.”
She most recently climbed to first all-time in school history with six game-winning goals in a season.
And if the cards fall right for Filigno, she will have another spot atop the Knights’ record book.
The Mississauga, Canada, native put two in the back of the net Friday against Louisville, and proceeded to punch in two more goals in Rutgers’ 5-0 victory Sunday against Cincinnati.
Her last goal, a well-executed header off a cross from senior forward April Price, gave Filigno 14 on the season.
The 14 goals are second all-time for a player in a single season at Rutgers, trailing four Knights who have 15 apiece. Those four include former Rutgers standout Carli Lloyd, who most recently captured gold with the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2012 London Olympics, where she scored four times.
Lloyd was honored before the Louisville match at halftime after she spoke with Filigno and the rest of the team before the game.
“I have so much respect for her as a player,” Filigno said after the win against the Cardinals. “She is someone I look up to, as well.”
Her recent play coupled with the Knights’ next opponent might have Lloyd looking up to Filigno in the record books.
The Knights have one game remaining, a match against in-state rival Seton Hall.
The Pirates are currently in seventh place in the Big East’s National Division and give up a league-worst 2.17 goals-per-game.
If Rutgers grabs a victory against Seton Hall, it automatically claims a spot in the Big East Tournament.
And while breaking the record would mean a lot to Filigno, she will not change the way she approaches the game as the team works for a playoff spot, she said.
“It is not my main focus,” she said of breaking the record. “First off, it is just getting a win as a team no matter how we do it. But now that I’m really close to it, I kind of want to do it. Next game I’m not going to go out there any different than I have, but if two goals come out of it or one goal, that would be awesome.”
Filigno’s ability to score has been contagious to the rest of her teammates.
In the past four matches, Rutgers has managed a 3-0-1 record and produced 11 goals.
Compare that to the Knights’ two goals in their previous six Big East matches, and an observer can see how valuable Filigno is to the offensive side of the ball, as teams have to key in on her and leave others open.
“Jonelle has been doing great every game,” DiPaolo said. “She always has two players on her and she has found a way to find the back of the net. It is great that we are being more productive offensively.”
While the record would be special for Crooks, as well, he is more worried about winning Friday’s game.
“As far as breaking the record, what it means for the team is what those goals contribute to us winning matches and advancing to the playoffs,” Crooks said. “We haven’t clinched anything yet, so the only thing we can say is that if we beat Seton Hall, we’re in.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.