Impressive trinity highlights Rutgers offense
The Rutgers women’s soccer team has much to celebrate this year.
The Scarlet Knights compiled a historic 10-1 home record this year — a program first — while also clinching the AAC Tournament’s third seed.
Much of the Knights’ success this season falls on their attacking methods. Rutgers’ offensive approach is complex and overpowering at times, as the team routinely outshoots its opponent.
For the season, the Knights have outshot their opponents, 278-195, converting their chances for 33 goals entering postseason play. They rank fifth in shots in the AAC.
While Rutgers is able to take so many shots on goal, that is not exactly their game plan.
“We don’t pay too much attention to our total shots each game. We focus on our opportunities to score,” said head coach Glenn Crooks. “Sometimes teams can get 35 shots on the net, but they may have shots that sail over the goal and out of play. The quality shots are the ones that matter to us and result from our good opportunities.”
Another vital part of the Knights’ offense is their diverse attacking trio. Rutgers boasts three players who possess impressive offensive numbers this season.
“We managed to develop three legitimate goal scorers, which we have not had here for quite some time,” Crooks said. “Stef, Jonelle and Madison have scored on a regular basis and come up with big goals.”
Senior forward Jonelle Filigno leads the team in shots on goal this season with 26. She also leads the conference in game-winning goals with five.
Filigno does not shy away from the offensive spotlight, as she led the Big East last season in points and goals. Her 15 goals last season tied for the most in Rutgers history.
This season, the Canadian national team member has not needed to shoulder the entire load offensively. Filigno ranks second in goals and points.
“We really have a great attacking mentality this season,” Filigno said. “A lot of girls have taken the responsibility and leadership of putting the ball in the back of the net when they enter the box or when they are around the box.”
The second of the Knights’ scoring threats falls on junior forward Stefanie Scholz, who currently leads the team in goals (10) — fifth in the AAC — and points (21).
Although she may lead the team in points and goals, Scholz came a long way from the beginning of the season.
“We have been pressing Stef all season to take advantage of her skillset and beat defenders with her athleticism, and she has made strides towards doing that,” Crooks said. “Going into our match against Princeton, she only had one goal for us and wasn’t in a starting role. That game we gave her a chance, and she erupted for four goals.”
Scholz knows her role in the offense’s scheme.
“When we are on offense, we use the width of the field and try to swing the ball around to strike when we can up close near the box,” Scholz said.
The last member of Rutgers’ attacking trinity is freshman midfielder Madison Tiernan. She leads the Knights with five assists and 53 shots and ranks third on the team in goals and points.
She developed in her own right this season and provides the vital third option on offense.
“One of the things we need to get better at is a reliable midfield scoring threat,” Crooks said. “Our midfield has been performing well, but Madison brings in good finishing abilities, great strength for her age and is getting better tactically every single day in training and each match.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.