July 17, 2018 | ° F

High-shooting opposition tests Rutgers’ resolve


Photo by Enrico Cabredo |

Defender Shannon Woeller is a senior, but she was not on the roster for Rutgers’ last NCAA?Tournament appearance in 2009. Only three Knights have experience in the tournament, all of which are seniors. Rutgers’ game against Colgate marks head coach Glenn Crooks’ sixth tourney.

Things have been hectic lately for Glenn Crooks.

Not only did the Rutgers head women’s soccer coach have to deal with his team being on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament, but the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy gave him and the team extra worries.

Crooks said a couple of his players’ families, including starting freshman defender Maggie Morash’s, were still without power as of Wednesday.

The surrounding circumstances, Crooks admits, makes it hard to keep things in perspective.

Photo: Enrico Cabredo

Head coach Glenn Crooks has the Knights focused on tomorrow’s first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament after Hurricane Sandy distractions.

“It has been such a crazy time with the uncertainty of whether we were going to get in coupled with the hurricane and the number of days off,” Crooks said, “so I think it is important to really keep their focus and just worrying about us.”

All things aside, the focus must now shift to the Scarlet Knights’ first-round NCAA Tournament game tomorrow.

The Knights play at Colgate, a team resembling a Connecticut squad that gave Rutgers trouble two weeks ago in the Big East Tournament.

UConn rattled off 22 shots its 3-1 victory against the Knights, something senior defender Tricia DiPaolo knows cannot happen again.

“We weren’t our best in the UConn game, and we know that,” DiPaolo said. “We want to focus on not being content making the tournament and want to do well in the tournament.”

The Knights have to fix the mistakes that plagued them against Connecticut to advance.

Like that of the Huskies, the Raiders’ aggressiveness has produced results, earning them 47 goals on 322 shots, 12 more than UConn.

Besides its 1-0 victory against Navy in the Patriot League Championship game, Colgate’s attacking style — featuring the Patriot League’s first- and second-leading scorers in forwards Jillian Kinter and Catherine Williams with 14 and 11, respectively — is what Crooks is most worried about.

“I think they’re really good,” Crooks said. “They can control the game and have really good athletes up front so they can score quickly. ... They are going to be a difficult team to defend because they get a lot of people forward and hopefully the chances we get are hopefully enough to overcome that.”

If the Knights are going to convert on those chances, it is most likely off the foot of junior forward Jonelle Filigno.

The Mississauga, Canada, native leads Rutgers with 14 goals this season and looks to push the ball upfront early to keep Colgate attentive.

“It is very important as soon as that whistle blows for us to get out there and for us to set the tone of the game,” Filigno said. “I think our biggest problems have come when we have not done that right from the beginning, and we haven’t been able to come back from that.”

Not only does Filigno bring her knack of finding the back of the net to Hamilton, N.Y., but her experience with the Canadian National Team can only benefit Rutgers, which has not seen action in the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

The All-Big East First Team selection has 42 caps with her national team, including a bronze medal in this summer’s Olympics.

Filigno acknowledges the distinction at the international and collegiate levels, but the similarities in importance is something she is used to.

“It’s not totally different,” Filigno said. “It is definitely two different levels, but it is a different excitement in a different way. For college, this is the best you can get and then on the international level the Olympics is the best you can get, as well, so they are both very exciting on the two different levels.”

DiPaolo, who lacks play on the international level, brings something even Filigno cannot claim.

She played in Rutgers’ last NCAA Tournament appearance.

Only three Knights on the roster — DiPaolo, senior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins and senior midfielder Maura McLaughlin — can say so.

So when everyone takes

the field and the importance

sets in, they look up to

the co-captain.

“In our meetings, we talked about how things can be really nerve racking going into these tournaments,” DiPaolo said. “So I think it’s good that we have players with experience to be able to calm [everyone] down and help them out if

they have anxiety before

the game.”

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

By Bradly Derechailo

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