Tourney run ends on road
It was a rarity for the Rutgers women’s soccer team to provide an offensive spark this season in the first half of matches.
So when Jonelle Filigno found the back of the net in the seventh minute against No. 2-seeded Virginia on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the junior forward thought a win was not so farfetched.
“I think we really believed that we were going to do it,” Filigno said.
But the Cavaliers reared their heads, rattling off six straight goals to defeat the Scarlet Knights, 6-1, to advance to the Sweet 16.
With each Virginia (18-4-1) goal came the realization that the Knights’ (13-8-1) season was coming to an end, something Filigno said happened in an instant.
“The turnaround was so quick,” Filigno said. “Once the second goal went in things started to change, and by the third goal, it was kind of just all downhill from there.”
Three different Cavalier players scored in the second half, including Virginia forward Caroline Miller.
An All-American last season, Miller drilled two goals in the match, including one in the 21st minute that Filigno described as the score that deflated Rutgers.
It was hard to fathom the Knights escaping with a victory on the road against the No. 3 team in the country.
And while the loss was the program’s worst since 2000, when the Knights dropped a match to Connecticut by the same score, Filigno believed the score was not indicative of the way Rutgers battled in the game.
“It almost seems like there is a huge gap of talent between the two teams, but I definitely think [the final result] doesn’t illustrate that,” Filigno said. “We knew we were going into a very tough game.”
Tough game or not, Filigno striking first was exactly what the Knights needed if they were going to stage the upset.
In her second straight start, April Price got behind the defense in the seventh minute and into the box.
The senior forward then got the ball to Filigno, who quickly converted on the shot from six yards out.
Virginia answered five minutes later, when Cavaliers forward Makenzy Doniak tied the game at 1 before Virginia began to pull away.
The offensive onslaught resulted in 30 shots to the Knights’ three, including 14 on senior goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins, who finished with eight saves.
For the way Virginia attacked, head coach Glenn Crooks — who said the Cavaliers had as good a chance as any of the teams remaining to advance deep into the tournament — expected the goal total.
“We played perhaps the best team in the country on a night where they could not have played better,” Crooks said. “As a coaching staff, we have played some top programs over the years, and we haven’t seen a team like the way Virginia played [Friday] since I’ve been at Rutgers.”
The Knights now have the task of replacing five seniors, who all contributed significant minutes for one of the more successful teams in Crooks’ tenure.
After the loss, Crooks believes the only thing the team can do now is learn from its seniors.
“Their leadership has taken us to another level, so now we build off of that,” Crooks said. “We’re not sorry about that loss. We are going to become more hungry because of it, and I’m looking forward to how this thing develops.”
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