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Thanks to the Rutgers women’s soccer team’s hot start, the Scarlet Knights will have to deal with added attention in the Virginia Nike Soccer Classic.
The Knights (4-0) have a tough draw tomorrow in Charlottesville, Va., as their first opponent of the weekend is No. 5 Virginia, which eliminated Rutgers in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“We’re really going to have to work hard and expect a lot of different types of play from a high-caliber team,” said junior midfielder Sara Corson. “We need to train hard this week to prepare for the game.”
The Cavaliers will be a challenge for a Rutgers team that has only given up two goals this season.
Virginia brings a high-powered offense that has scored 16 goals in four games, including five goals against then-No. 7 Penn State.
Midfielder Morgan Brian, who played as a reserve Tuesday for the U.S. Women’s National Team against Mexico, leads the Cavaliers. In that contest, Brian scored her first-career international goal.
Senior goaltender Jessica Janosz will be the key for the Knights’ defense, as she has not allowed a goal this season with three shutouts.
“We are definitely going to have to play a good game and I have full confidence that if we play our game, we are going to be able to play with them,” Janosz said. “There is going to be a lot of pressure from their side but we also have people who can put the ball in the back of the net.”
Rutgers also needs senior forward Jonelle Filigno to lead on offense. Filigno leads the team in goals and points this season.
Filigno also brings experience, which some of the younger players will need to feed off for Rutgers to avenge its tournament loss.
In that contest, the Knights led, 1-0, thanks to a Filigno goal in the opening minutes. Rutgers then gave up six consecutive goals and left the second round with a 6-1 loss.
“It’s going to take a lot of discipline, hard work and especially heart in order to get the win,” Filigno said. “Last year we went up, 1-0, then we kind of lost ourselves and things went downhill from there. We are going to need to stick together [tonight].”
Filigno will look for help from Corson and freshman midfielder Madison Tiernan. Corson and Tiernan both have had solid starts to their seasons and will need to continue that level of play if they want to advance to the final of the Nike Soccer Classic.
“We know we are going to be up against it and we can’t squander any opportunities against this team,” said head coach Glenn Crooks.
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.