Rutgers' offense awakens in dominant home shutout
In the Rutgers women’s soccer’s team’s 1-0 edging of Indiana on Thursday night, head coach Mike O’Neill acknowledged the obvious sluggish play.
Coming off an exhausting road trip, the No. 25 Rutgers women’s soccer team could have pulled out all of the excuses in the book.
But rather than making excuses, the Scarlet Knights emphasized the importance of learning from their mistakes and correcting them with Purdue coming to Yurcak Field on Sunday.
And with a 4-0 domination of the Boilermakers, it’s safe to say that the Knights did just that.
While he insisted he was satisfied with the win over Indiana, O’Neill admitted he wanted to see more out of his players and that they expected the same of themselves.
After two days of rest, the Knights came back at 100 percent, and the conviction in their play throughout the entire 90 minutes of the contest showed it.
“We talked about how we were going to respond from Thursday, and we responded really well,” O’Neill said. “We were really good on both sides of the ball, we finished our opportunities, we talked about being composed and taking advantage of the opportunities we had, but we also talked about the build up and how we were going to get ourselves there.”
Evidently, that build up began with senior forward Stef Scholz.
In the 16th minute, Scholz struck with the first goal of the game after a feed from junior midfielder Hayley Katkowski.
Scholz netted her fifth goal of the season and moved into ninth place on the program’s all-time goals list.
“I was at the corner on that throw, but there was the ball in the box, and it popped out to Hayley,” Scholz said. “Before the game, we talked about using the widths, so I tried to hold the [defensive] line out wide, and Hay put a good ball in.”
For Rutgers (9-1-1, 5-1-1), taking care of a below-average team in Purdue (6-7-1, 2-6) was an imperative task. With the third win in a row, the Knights find themselves in a good position, as they near the top of the Big Ten with the three points obtained from beating the Boilermakers.
Scholz remained a catalyst for the Knights on offense, finding junior forward Amanda DeVolk for the score to create some distance between the Boilermakers with a 2-0 lead.
It was the first of two goals on the day for DeVolk, who put the nail in Purdue’s coffin after tapping in a goal on the right side of an open net on a cross by freshman forward Jessie Sexton in the 80th minute.
Along with Katkowski’s goal in the 34th minute and Scholz’s early strike, DeVolk’s two scores added up to what was an aggressive day for Rutgers on the offensive side of the ball.
DeVolk, whose two goals were the first of the season, pointed to the discipline of the Knights to learn from their mistakes and maximize their brand of play.
With a trip out to No. 9 Penn State looming this Saturday, the adjustments come at the right time.
“From today’s win, I think it really showed us we have to stick to the game plan,” DeVolk said. “We made a really big effort of following all of the things we set out to do and executing the game plan, and I think that was the biggest thing that helped us stay successful today.”
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