Rutgers remains unbeaten, makes history
PISCATAWAY — In its final non-conference matchup of the regular season, the No. 19 Rutgers women’s soccer team defeated No. 20 Connecticut, 2-0, at Yurcak Field in a historic victory.
In front of a crowd of 812, the 2015 Scarlet Knights became the first team in program history to start the season 7-0, an accomplishment made even more impressive when considering they have yet to allow a goal this season.
The team seems to be clicking on each part of the field and head coach Mike O’Neill is ecstatic with what he saw from his team against the previously unbeaten Huskies (6-1).
“We’re proud of everything we accomplish, from what we do in training to what we do in games and today, we were fortunate enough to make some history,” he said. “It’s special to be 7-0 and we have a special group here.”
Connecticut gave the Knights their biggest test yet, as Rutgers was outshot for the first time this season by a mark of 18-13.
But the decisive shots were in favor of Rutgers, as senior defender Erica Skroski scored her first goal of the season in the 12th minute on an assist from senior midfielder Samantha Valliant.
Skroski headed the ball in the near post off the corner kick from Valliant.
She was elated to have her first goal of the season come in such a pivotal win for the program.
“We came into the game knowing they were 6-0 and we were 6-0, so that definitely put a lot more energy into it, especially in front of our home crowd,” Skroski said. “We really came out prepared for this one and with a lot of energy … (7-0) is a great accomplishment and we have all worked really hard to get to where we are now.”
More than any other game thus far, the Knights were challenged throughout by an aggressive Huskies attack.
In the 15th minute, senior defender Brianne Reed made an incredible diving stop off a rebound to send the ball flying the other way after sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy had made a save.
Murphy followed it up with another crucial save in the 33rd minute on Connecticut’s best chance on a shot from forward Stephanie Ribiero and she finished with five saves on the day.
With another shutout, Rutgers has now logged 630 minutes of shutout soccer to start the season.
Keeping up the streak against a stout Connecticut team could catapult the Knights into even better play against more tough competition moving forward, O’Neill said.
“Every day you have to find a way to get better and playing against a team like UConn forced us to be the best that we could be today,” he said. “We’ll learn a lot from that because we’ll pay close attention from today’s video against a quality team like this. … It will only help us to look at the good and bad things from today as we go forward.”
Rutgers got some insurance in the 69th minute when sophomore forward Colby Ciarrocca scored her second goal of the season.
She tapped the ball in the center box after being assisted by junior forward Jenna Seddon, getting the ball by Connecticut goalie Emily Armstrong.
For Ciarrocca, a transfer after playing at Vanderbilt last year, a win like this is significant because she realizes how much it means to her new teammates.
“It’s awesome to be a part of the first 7-0 team at Rutgers and I just love the team dynamic we have,” she said. “Everyone here talks about how this is the closest this group has ever been and I can definitely see it by how we are playing on the field. It’s a cool moment for us.”
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