RU earns postseason berth against Pirates
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Two goals by junior forward Jonelle Filigno would have given her sole possession of most goals scored in a single season for the Rutgers women’s soccer team.
And while a goal from sophomore forward Stefanie Scholz late in the second half secured a 2-0 victory against Seton Hall on Friday, Filigno would not have minded if both goals were from her.
But the victory secured a spot in the Big East Tournament for the Scarlet Knights, an accomplishment Filigno sees as the most important part to come out of the win.
“Most importantly, the team got through,” Filigno said. “I really wanted it badly, but we are through, and that’s all that matters.”
Filigno took a pass from the midfield in the 73rd minute and headed it to Scholz, who proceeded to drill her second goal of the season to put the Knights up, 2-0, against the Pirates.
Scholz’s goal, paired with freshman forward Rachel Cole’s score in the first half, allowed Rutgers to play conservatively, letting Seton Hall control the ball for most of the second half. But the Pirates could never find the back of the net.
But what Seton Hall lacked in attack, it more than made up for on the physical side.
Senior defender Tricia DiPaolo highlighted that play in the 57th minute, when she got away with a hold in the box on Pirates forward Stephanie Soma. Soma, frustrated with the call, pushed back, which led to the first yellow card of the game.
“That’s college soccer,” said head coach Glenn Crooks. “College soccer is physical at the Division-I level. I can’t think of too many games that I’ve been involved in as a coach where the physical aspect of the game did not play some role in the match. If you aren’t up to it, you can be on the wrong side of the score.”
While the Knights only managed to get five shots off in the first period, Cole made the best of a whistled tackled on Filigno late in the first half.
Cole, who came off the bench, converted on a set piece from 25 yards out to give Rutgers a 1-0 lead, drilling her third goal of the season behind Pirate goalkeeper Alyssa Kelly in the top left corner of the net.
“Jonelle got fouled and we both went up to kick the free kick, and I was like, ‘I got this,’” Cole said. “I was thinking of just putting it on the ground through, but the last couple of times it didn’t work, so I figured I’d just go for it.”
The free shot in the 42nd minute was one of many opportunities for Rutgers. The Knights dictated play during the first half but could not get clean shots.
Save for a Seton Hall shot in the 11th minute that went right to senior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins — her third save of the night — the Pirates did not get off any clean shots against Rutgers’ defense in the first half, when the Knights were more focused on attack.
“It was a typical Seton Hall-Rutgers match where we almost always know coming in that it is going to be a close match in terms of the score line,” Crooks said.
Filigno shot only once in the first half, an open strike in the 11th minute right to Kelly.
Filigno’s low shot total gave her little chance to break the single-season goals record for Rutgers, but she is fine with a hard-fought road victory and a berth in the Big East Tournament.
“It was a good win,” Filigno said. “We knew that we were through [conference play], but we needed to finish on a good note going into the Big East Tournament, so overall from front to back I think we had a solid performance.”
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