Rutgers extends unbeaten record to 5-0
Going into its nationally televised match against Princeton on Thursday night, the Rutgers women’s soccer team looked to turn its possession style of offense into an attacking one.
The group looked to do that and much more in its victory over the Tigers as the No. 22 Scarlet Knights (5-0) scored three second half goals to take a 3-0 shutout win.
Much like their first few games to start the season, the Knights got off to a slow start offensively in the first half. But they were able to quickly come out of the gates for the final 45 minutes of the match.
Senior midfielder Samantha Valliant got the scoring started in the 47th minute with a goal from in front of the net on an assist from sophomore forward Colby Ciarrocca.
It was the first goal of her senior season and she said she was glad to have it come as a game-winner for Rutgers.
“It felt really good to get that goal, especially in a win like this,” Valliant told the Targum. “We were looking for that first goal and I was glad to score it.”
Less than a minute later, her goal was followed by a score from senior forward Cassie Inacio, who was assisted by junior midfielder Jennifer Andresen.
With the momentum starting to quickly build for the Knights, Inacio scored once again in the 58th minute, heading one in the net on a cross for the assist from senior defender Brianne Reed.
It was a welcoming offensive outburst for Rutgers, making head coach Mike O’Neill pleased to see the offense become more aggressive as the match went on.
“When we had opportunities in the first half that we were unable to connect on, we came out for the second half focused,” he said. “We told the team to not press and to continue playing good soccer, which led us to finish more chances. We have always been creating chances, so it was good to finish more of them today.”
Inacio’s two goals gave her the team lead with three on the season, but she was most excited to see the team collectively play well in the win.
“We really needed a game like this where we could score more than one (goal), so it was great to get three today,” she said. “We stayed confident like we have in each game and it was good to put it all together.”
Along with the plentiful goal scoring, the Knights recorded their fifth consecutive shutout to start the season.
They have recorded 450 minutes of scoreless soccer, led by strong performances from the defensive backline and sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy.
O’Neill said he remains impressed with how his team has been defending the ball, knowing that its defense will be the key to keeping it close in all matches.
“Anybody who is on the pitch has to defend to play for us. It’s so important to build from the back to the front. With Casey Murphy in goal, she offers us so much with her experience and then our back four just doesn’t give up much at all," he said. "It’s a good feeling knowing that you have those players back there that can allow us to create chances without giving up many goals.”
The Knights now look forward to a Sunday home matchup against Drexel at Yurcak Field.
They strive to extend their unblemished record to 6-0 overall, which would tie them with the 1996 team for the best record in school history.
While they understand that would be a significant accomplishment, they try to approach each game the same way by not looking into things like historical records.
“It means a lot to us to play and win every game … we don’t think of things like records,” O’Neill said. “We just think of who the next opponent is and what we need to do to get the job done and when we accomplish things along the way, then we are proud of that. Drexel is the next game and that is the focus.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.