Forward nets assists to lift RU in Big East
Junior forward Jonelle Filigno earned the recognition for the Rutgers women’s soccer team’s 1-0 overtime victory Friday at DePaul.
Her goal 38 seconds into the first extra 10 minutes not only broke a three-game losing streak but also gave the Scarlet Knights momentum in their 2-2 tie Sunday with No. 24 Notre Dame.
But sophomore forward Cassie Inacio was on the other side of that scoring play, dribbling through the defense to find a streaking Filigno.
Head coach Glenn Crooks saw the play coming before the overtime kickoff even began, as she had the same opportunity with time winding down in the second half and demonstrated the ability to break free in recent weeks.
“The game winner to Jonelle was classic Cassie,” Crooks said. “I haven’t seen any players in the league do it better than her when she burst out of the midfield and runs at pace with the ball. She is very, very dangerous.”
Inacio, on the other hand, had doubts she would see another opportunity like she did in the second period.
“At half time Coach [Crooks] was like, ‘Well, next time you could have done a scissor move, gone left and shot back post,’” Inacio said. “So I was like, ‘OK, coach, whatever,’ but 30 seconds in, I got the ball, did a scissor move and got it to [Filigno] and she finished.”
Inacio came up big again in the Knights’ match against the Fighting Irish when she got the ball to senior defender Shannon Woeller off of a corner kick 10 minutes into the first half.
Notre Dame goalkeeper Sarah Voigt deflected Woeller’s shot, but Woeller converted the deflection into only the third Rutgers first-half goal of the season and second of the game.
The performance last weekend by the Knights was an offensive revival for a team that scored as many goals in their past two games as it did in their previous seven.
And it could not have come at a better time.
Rutgers has three league games remaining as it continues to solidify a spot in the Big East Tournament.
The Knights currently rank sixth in the Big East National Division with games left against Cincinnati and Seton Hall, which both sit behind Rutgers in the standings.
With such a slow start to league play, the Knights can give some of the credit to Inacio for putting them back in position to contend for playoff position.
But while the game-winning play she and Filigno created against DePaul was important, Inacio realizes there is still a lot of work to do.
“We need to keep winning and win now,” Inacio said. “We need to get the points now. We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole so we need to get the points. [But] the goal was huge.”
Crooks, meanwhile, is impressed with the Manalapan, N.J., native’s recent play, and credits it to her concentration in practice.
“She is very competitive and very fiery in training,” Crooks said. “We do a lot of competition in training, and I believe she has taken it another step in her competitiveness. ... Cassie has some very special qualities, and she just needs to continue to work on what may be her deficiencies. But she is becoming more and more of a complete player each day.”
Louisville is the next opponent for Rutgers and represents another team the Knights can overcome in the standings, as the Cardinals sit in fifth place.
But the Knights need to continue converting on scoring opportunities — something Inacio can have a hand in and believes the rest of her teammates have the potential to do, as well.
“It’s really important, and I think it is just a mentality,” Inacio said on staying aggressive offensively. “We have the players to do it. We just need to do what we did this [past] weekend.”
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