Rutgers suffers loss, shutout in Big Ten Tournament final
The move to the Big Ten just two short years ago brought much fanfare and attention to Rutgers.
Heading to such a high-profile athletic conference was sure to be a major move for the school, and the Scarlet Knights got their first taste of a championship game in the conference Sunday afternoon.
But the No. 7 Rutgers women’s soccer team did not get the result it was hoping for as it was beaten by No. 9 Penn State, 2-0, in the Big Ten Championship game at Jeffrey Field in State College, Pennsylvania.
The Scarlet Knights (16-3-2, 7-3-2) entered the game as the No. 3 seed in the tournament and could never gain any momentum after a pair of early goals from the No. 1 seed Nittany Lions (16-3-2, 9-2-1).
Penn State controlled the ball from the start, showing an aggressive offensive attack against a Rutgers defense which has been among the best in the country all season long.
In the ninth minute, Elizabeth Ball scored off a corner kick from Nickolette Dreiesse to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.
It highlighted the one area in which the Knights have struggled this season — defending set pieces.
Sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy made a big save in 20th minute when she came out of net to catch a long-distance shot from Penn State.
But in the 26th minute, Emily Ogle got one past Murphy after a Rutgers turnover and gave the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead with a strike from 18 yards out.
The Knights had their best chance of the first half in the 36th minute on a corner kick from junior midfielder Jennifer Andresen, whose shot into the box was headed by senior defender Brianne Reed just wide of the goal.
Reed was the most active player for the Knights all day, making several stops to prevent more scoring chances from Penn State.
It was the first time all season the Knights trailed at the half, and the Nittany Lions did not look back.
The Knights were looking to gain more possession of the ball in the second half, but were stymied by the Penn State defense, which continued to force turnovers.
They had their closest chance of the match in the 55th minute on a corner kick from Andresen, whose kick rattled around the net and found senior forward Cassie Inacio for a second opportunity, but she could not put the ball in the net.
Rutgers also nearly got on the board in the 87th minute, but sophomore forward Colby Ciarrocca's goal was called back for offside after she tapped the ball in the net.
It was a day where the Knights could never really get an offensive rhythm going.
Penn State outshot Rutgers, 10-5, in the game, and Inacio had the only shot on goal for the Knights.
Murphy finished with four saves for the game, while Britt Eckerstrom finished with one save for Penn State.
The Knights advanced to their first ever Big Ten finals by defeating Ohio State 2-0 on Friday, led by goals from Ciarrocca and Andresen. Murphy set the school record with her 15th shutout in the win.
Senior defender Erica Skroski and junior midfielder Madison Tiernan were named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team for their performances through their three games against conference foes.
The team now is awaiting to hear about its seeding in the NCAA Tournament, which is set to begin later in the week.
For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @Mike_OSully2 and @TargumSports on Twitter.