August 20, 2019 | 81° F

Rutgers looks to finish undefeated at Yurcak

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

The Rutgers women’s soccer team has enjoyed the comforts of playing at home this season.

The No. 12 Scarlet Knights (12-2-2, 5-2-2) have taken full advantage of the home crowd and familiarity of their pitch at Yurcak Field, posting an unbeaten mark of 8-0-1 on their home turf.

On Friday night, the Knights close out their regular season home schedule in a conference matchup with No. 19 Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-2-1).

The Golden Gophers are tied for second in the Big Ten standings, while Rutgers stands in fourth place.

The last home game gives the Knights a chance to fine-tune their play and continue their recent stretch of positive momentum as they head into the postseason.

“We like the way we have been playing, but we have to keep getting better and focusing on what we want to do,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “It’s a very important game and we all understand that. It’s important to get better with each day, and we know that Minnesota is a very talented team, and our game plan will be crucial for this game.”

Rutgers enters this game playing some of its best soccer of the season.

Coming off a week where the Knights blanked Ohio State with a 2-0 win at home, they followed it up with a 1-0 shutout over then-No. 9 Penn State on Senior Day.

For their efforts, many players received national recognition and accolades during the week.

Sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording a pair of shutouts, which gives her 13 on the season.

She leads the conference in shutouts, save percentage at .926 and goals-against average at 0.24.

Freshman defender Adora Moneme was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal against Ohio State.

Finally, sophomore forward Colby Ciarrocca was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and a Women’s Team of the Week Honorable Mention after scoring two more goals during the week.

She is in her first season with Rutgers after transferring from Vanderbilt, yet has quickly realized the emphasis the team puts on winning at home and knows what it would mean to the program to finish the regular season without losing a home game.

“The Minnesota game is very important, and it’s at home. We don’t like to lose at home,” she said. “We have a lot of pride playing here at Yurcak because there is a long tradition of winning. We want to get another one on Friday.”

The last time Rutgers lost at home was last season in a 1-0 Senior Day defeat to Northwestern.

Dating back to the 2013 season, the Knights hold a 28-2-1 record at home and are looking to finish unbeaten at home for only the third time in school history.

Senior defender Erica Skroski has been a part of many victories both at home and on the road during her time at Rutgers.

Another win would move the Knights up the conference standings and better their chances of landing in the top four, which would net them a home game in the Big Ten Tournament.

While they know it will be a tough game against a Minnesota team ahead of them in the standings, Rutgers sees an opportunity to take matters into its own hands and give itself the chance to play at home some more.

“We’re hoping we can get a home seed for the Big Ten Tournament and to get some more points in the conference,” she said. “We’re looking to continue to play well and finish up strong in the Big Ten.”

For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Mike O' Sullivan

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