Rutgers downs Iowa, locks up No. 3 seed for Big Ten Tournament
A road trip to Iowa for the regular season finale was sure to present difficulties for the Rutgers women’s soccer team, but it was able to carry over its home dominance into enemy territory and escape with a 2-0 victory.
The No. 9 Scarlet Knights (14-2-2, 7-2-2) got off to a quick start against the Hawkeyes (7-10-1, 1-9-1) and wanted to make sure they played consistently for the full 90 minutes like they have over the past few games.
They did just that, dominating the pace of play throughout the whole game and never giving Iowa much of a chance to get their offense going.
Senior midfielder Hayley Katkowski gave the Knights the early advantage with a goal in the third minute, assisted by fellow seniors Samantha Valliant and Brianne Reed.
The early strike gave Rutgers a quick 1-0 lead. It was the third goal of the season for the veteran, Katkowski, who also logged her 82nd consecutive start.
The Knights dominated the majority of play in the first half, racking up 16 shots compared to Iowa’s four.
Rutgers recorded eight of those shots in the first 13 minutes, adhering to head coach Mike O’Neill’s emphasis on trying to jump on a team like Iowa from the start.
In the second half, junior forward Madison Tiernan scored her first goal of the season in the 57th minute to put her team ahead 2-0.
The Knights continued their recent stretch of offensive aggressiveness, decisively outshooting the Hawkeyes, 28-5 and 12-3, in shots on goal.
Sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy posted her 14th shutout of the season and finished with three saves on the night.
All 14 of Rutgers’ victories this season have come via the shutout and Murphy is now tied with Erin Guthrie from the school’s 2006 team for most shutouts by a goalkeeper in a season.
Their 14th victory of the season also gives them their most since 2009 and ties them for second-most in program history with the postseason yet to begin. The school record for wins is 16, which was set in 2006.
With the win, Rutgers clinched the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will host the quarterfinals of the tournament at home on Sunday afternoon against No. 6 seed Minnesota.
The Knights are also unbeaten in their last eight matches (6-0-2) and are heading into postseason play by continuing to play as efficiently as they have all year.
The offensive output is now keeping up with the tremendous defense that has been there the whole season, giving Rutgers confidence heading into the postseason.
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