July 16, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers remains on bubble for NCAAs

Photo by Marielle Sumergido |

Goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins is one of five seniors whose careers could end if the Knights do not make the NCAA Tournament, which they have not done since 2009 when Rutgers lost in Round 2.

For the Rutgers women’s soccer team, its 3-1 loss to Connecticut on Oct. 25 in the first round of the Big East Tournament was a disappointment.

While Big East play is over, head coach Glenn Crooks believes the Scarlet Knights’ season is not lost yet.

He is now focused on securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament

“Our outlook is to prepare for a game for next Friday,” Crooks said.

The Knights were in solid position to secure an at-large bid for the tournament at the beginning of Big East play. Rutgers posted a 7-1 record in nonconference matches with its only loss coming in a 4-1 defeat Aug. 31 at top-25 Texas A&M.

The Aggies finished the season 17-4-1 and are one of three teams in Rutgers’ nonconference schedule that have an RPI less than 100.

Texas A&M holds the No. 10 RPI in the country, while Ohio State comes in 67th and Dartmouth owns the 98th spot.

Rutgers defeated both Ohio State and Dartmouth, games that aided Rutgers in having a No. 25 RPI and something Crooks sees putting the team in position for the postseason.

“Our strength of schedule is in the top 25, and that does help,” Crooks said. “I keep that in mind when I make the schedule. We have some strong out-of-conference games along with our strong Big East conference games.”

The strength of Big East competition also benefits the Knights, but the team did itself no favors with its slow start to conference play.

Rutgers dropped five of its first six games in Big East play, including losses to Villanova and St. John’s, whose records stand below .500. It also lost to Syracuse, whose RPI of 190 is second-worst in the conference.

The Knights rebounded after their win against DePaul, going 4-1-0 to finish the regular season.

That record includes a 2-2 tie with Notre Dame in South Bend on Oct. 7, a result that could decide if Rutgers makes the tournament.

But no matter who the Knights play, Crooks knows the best way to earn a bid is to produce victories.

“Playing in those games, if you can get a result and better yet a win, it makes it better,” Crooks said. “I think initially there is a balance to make the schedule give you the best opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament. As long as we

do the job on the field, we’ll get an opportunity.”

The opportunity Rutgers could receive this week depends on the national committee that selects the field.

The committee is composed of eight regional committees, and the Knights fall into the Northeast region.

Crooks is a member of the committee that oversees the Northeast region, an influence that can help Rutgers, though he admits for the most part it is out of his hands.

“I’m a bit on the inside, but I don’t have any power in terms of who gets in and who does not,” Crooks said. “We rank our region.”

With no more games on the schedule, all Rutgers can do now is wait.

“We’re squarely on the bubble,” Crooks said. “We certainly have an opportunity. Our

RPI sets us up to have a

decent chance.”

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

By Bradly Derechailo

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