Late UConn goal sinks Rutgers
With a potential home playoff game on the line, Rutgers and Connecticut faced a high-stakes game at Yurcak Field.
Both teams saw their fair share of chances, but the Huskies (11-7, 5-3) capitalized on their opportunities to secure a crucial 2-1 victory against the Scarlet Knights (11-4-2, 4-3-1).
“It’s a very difficult loss, and I need to be honest, I didn’t think there was any point in the match that we thought we would be on the wrong end of the match,” said head coach Glenn Crooks. “It is unfortunate that we weren’t able to put in another one out of the number of chances that we had.”
The Huskies took the lead in the 80th minute after a wild sequence resulted in a free kick deep into Rutgers’ defensive third.
Senior goalkeeper Jessica Janosz made two saves on the play, but failed to stop the third attempt from defender Gabrielle Charno, who put UConn in front 2-1.
Senior forward Jonelle Filigno almost tied the game for Rutgers after winning possession deep in UConn’s attacking third. She rattled off a shot between several defenders, but it sailed just right of the net.
That next chance came just a few seconds later after another wild sequence inside the box with the ball bouncing around and changing possessions multiple times.
Rutgers got no clean shot off and it turned into the final opportunity of the game, as UConn held on and escaped with a 2-1 victory.
This loss dampers their chance to host a first-round AAC playoff game.
Crooks believes his team is still capable of making a run as the season comes to a close.
“Although we’ve made things more difficult for ourselves, I have 100 percent faith in this team,” Crooks said. “We’re still doing a lot of good things, doing a lot of the right things on the field and we’ll try to take it one more level.”
Rutgers attempted to do just that in the first half after the Knights were down, 1-0.
In the final minute of the first half, Rutgers broke through for a goal off freshman midfielder Victoria Prager’s corner kick.
The kick sailed into the box and sophomore defender Brianne Reed controlled it, putting the ball past UConn goalkeeper Emily Armstrong to tie it, 1-1.
“Obviously there were a lot of good moments [and we were] really happy to get that goal right before the halftime,” said senior defender Tricia DiPaolo. “That goal gave us a lot of energy going into the second half.”
The goal responded to Connecticut forward Rachel Hill, who put the Huskies up, 1-0, in the fifth minute.
Hill chipped the ball past Janosz, who got a hand on the shot, to put the Huskies ahead. Hill’s goal was only the seventh goal Rutgers allowed in the first half this season.
Reed thought the Knights’ troubles did not reflect the final score.
“I really didn’t think that we needed to change much, just change our mentality,” Reed said. “We needed to go into our tackles a little bit harder and play tougher.”
The loss now puts Rutgers in a must-win situation going into Sunday’s matchup against Temple. But even with a victory, the Knights will still need help from the rest of the conference to host a first-round match.
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