Rutgers seeks revenge against Big Ten foes Michigan State, Michigan
The No. 25 Rutgers women’s soccer team looks to avenge a pair of conference losses last weekend with a pair of conference wins at home this weekend.
The Scarlet Knights (8-2, 1-2) return home to Yurcak Field to take on Michigan State (6-1-3, 2-0-1) on Friday night and then Michigan (7-4, 1-2) on Sunday afternoon.
These are sure to be another tough couple of matches for Rutgers, which is hoping to put the disappointment from a couple behind it quickly as they prepare for more Big Ten competition.
“The most important thing for us is to not dwell on losses and keep focusing on us and what we have to do to get better,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “We’ve got to work harder on keeping the ball and creating chances and taking advantage of those chances when we get them.”
After three consecutive conference games on the road, the Knights take solace knowing that six of their next seven games are at home.
Rutgers has yet to lose at home this season, looking to hit the ground running and return to its winning ways on Friday in front of its home crowd at Yurcak Field.
Veterans like senior forward Cassie Inacio understand the importance of winning at home and how the Knights can avoid a long stretch of poor play by getting reenergized in front of the home crowd.
“We love playing at home,” said Inacio. “It’s our home turf and every year when we set our goals, we say that we want to try to win every home game and for people to come out an enjoy watching the game. We want people to be here.”
The team has focused on regrouping during practice this week, working on ball control and making sure their defense remains solid.
They know they ran into a couple of tough opponents in Illinois and Northwestern, but also realize they have the ability to play better.
Junior midfielder Madison Tiernan was a bright spot for Rutgers during their road trip. She led the team with three shots in their loss against Northwestern.
She said she believes the biggest key to getting the team back on track is to make sure that it plays with an emphasis on what it does well as a collective.
“We’ve got to get back to paying attention to the details and we need to play with more confidence and worrying about ourselves and what we can do out there,” she said. “We need to focus on what our strengths are and how we want to play. If we do that, then the results should come for us.”
With the Knights having a few days to prepare for this weekend’s matchups, they feel they are prepared for both Michigan teams coming to Piscataway.
Giving Michigan State its first conference loss would be a huge boost for Rutgers. It could set the Knights up with confidence going into their Sunday matchup with Michigan and beyond on the Big Ten slate.
But Rutgers is taking it one game at a time, hoping to first get on track against the Spartans.
“Michigan State is a very good team, and we’ve had some time to prepare for them,” O’Neill said. “We’re looking forward to getting back on the field and getting back to work, and I know our team will be ready.”
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