RU begins late playoff push
It was important for the Rutgers women’s soccer team to escape its two-game road trip this weekend with points to move up in the Big East Standings.
And while head coach Glenn Crooks would be happier with a win yesterday, a 2-2 tie at No. 24 Notre Dame can only help as it continues to collect points for a Big East playoff push.
“The draw is a good result for us,” Crooks said. “There was a lot of desire, and it was so great this weekend as the team came together even more, and we are pretty excited. We have three games left, and hopefully it results in something good.”
Senior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins kept the Fighting Irish scoreless in both overtime periods, highlighted by a tip save with eight minutes left in the second overtime to prevent a Notre Dame (10-3-2, 6-0-1) victory. The save was one of eight for Simpkins as she contested 27 shots during the course of the match.
“Emmy had a very good game,” Crooks said. “She came up big in the first half. They put some pressure on us, but I thought we defended really well.”
Though Notre Dame had control of the ball all throughout the contest, Rutgers’ (9-6-1, 2-5-1) defense managed to prevent the Irish’s opportunities around the box with constant deflections.
Senior defender Tricia DiPaolo prevented the closest shot on goal in the second half when Notre Dame rocketed a shot toward the back-left of the net with 18 minutes left. DiPaolo slid and kicked the ball before it crossed the goal line.
Though Rutgers usually waits — unintentionally — until the second half to get on the board, it diverted from that against Notre Dame, as the Knights put two goals in the back of the net in the first half.
Forward Stephanie Scholz struck in the 36th minute to combat two straight goals by Notre Dame forward Crystal Thomas, giving the Knights a 2-2 tie.
Senior defender Shannon Woeller scored 10 minutes in to put the Knights up, 1-0.
But the bigger game for Rutgers came Friday night, when the Knights knocked off DePaul, 1-0, in overtime.
Junior forward Jonelle Filigno played hero once again with a goal only 38 seconds into overtime — past DePaul’s (7-7-1, 2-4) Megan Pyrs — for the win.
The goal from Filigno was her sixth game-winning goal of the year, with her latest arriving in timely fashion.
“It was fantastic,” Crooks said. “It was set up by winning the ball in the back with great team defending. When Jonelle gets the ball in that position, she’s money.”
Rutgers moved from last place to fifth in the Big East National Division with its performance this weekend, and only three games remain in the regular season.
“It is extremely important,” Filigno said of the team’s performance. “We are almost fighting for our lives right now, so we will take anything we can get. Obviously every single weekend we are striving for the six points, but we are happy with the four points we got.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.