Rutgers reflects upon successful campaign
The Rutgers women’s soccer team’s season ended with most, if not all, the players in tears after the result of the NCAA Tournament first-round matchup.
Senior goalkeeper Jessica Janosz held back hers when she spoke about her career ending.
“We broke a lot of school records and had one of the most successful years for Rutgers women’s soccer,” Janosz said after the team dropped its first NCAA Tournament game to West Virginia, 3-0 in penalty kicks. “I’m so happy to be a part of it. These are a fantastic group of girls that I’m really going to miss. The hardest thing is going to be leaving these girls.”
Head coach Glenn Crooks wanted to make things clear after the season ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament on penalty kicks.
“We didn’t lose the West Virginia match. We tied the West Virginia match,” Crooks said. “I think we were the better side on the night and had more quality opportunities. When it comes down to PKs, they had the experience of seeing us take them twice and they did their job to advance.”
It was not the first time Rutgers’ (13-4-5, 5-3-1) fate came down to penalty kicks.
Before the national tournament game, penalty kicks against Memphis propelled Rutgers on Nov. 8 to the AAC Championship game against Central Florida.
But against UCF the Knights lost, 8-7, Nov. 10 because of penalty kicks.
The loss overshadowed victories Oct. 27 against Temple in the season finale and Nov. 3 against Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the AAC Tournament to advance to conference semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Crooks believes there were games throughout the schedule that made it a successful season.
“I think it was a great season for the program. Looking back, there were moments that really got us to [the NCAA Tournament],” Crooks said. “Even before conference play, we got a last-minute goal to beat Villanova, which was big. Looking at our conference games, we did a lot of what we wanted to do and played good soccer.”
Some of that success stemmed from Rutgers’ senior class, who provided production and leadership.
Senior defender Tricia DiPaolo graduates after seven seasons, which included several injury redshirts.
The senior defender was captain for four straight seasons and made the AAC All-Tournament team after helping the Knights allow only one goal throughout the conference tournament. DiPaolo started every game this season.
Janosz also led the defense..
Janosz did not allow a goal in the last 360:99 minutes of the season. The goalkeeper finished her career with 12 shutouts — seventh all-time in the program — including nine this season to go along with 82 saves.
The Ringwood, N.J., native, who started every game for the Knights this season, becamde the AAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
“Jess came up with the performance of the year [against Memphis in AAC semi-finals],” Crooks said. “She saved her best goalkeeping for her last four matches and was outstanding throughout the year. She really closed out her career well.”
Offensively, it is hard to look past senior forward Jonelle Filigno.
The senior forward ranks fourth all-time for Rutgers in points and goals and is first for her career with 17 game-winning goals.
A member of the Canadian National Team, Filigno was second on the team with eight goals this season.
Filigno is also the fifth player in program history to be named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. She also made first-team all-conference.
Tasked with replacing the production and leadership of Filigno, junior forward Stefanie Scholz feels prepared, having played alongside the star forward.
“I’ve learned a great deal from Jonelle and the other seniors on the team,” Scholz said. “I think it’s just a matter of taking their qualities and building from it to bring this program to where it needs to be.”
Crooks knows the process of replacing the seniors will difficult.
“From an ability standpoint, replacing them will not be easy, even more so from a leadership standpoint,” Crooks said. “How they conduct themselves and how dear the team is to them, those things are not as measurable. That’s the nature of intercollegiate athletics, leaders leaving and having to develop new ones. This is what you deal with as a coach each year, it’s part of the process.”