Rutgers fights through missed penalty, extra time to defeat Purdue
In the 2016 edition of its annual Breast Cancer Awareness “Pink” Game, the Rutgers women’s soccer team came through in the clutch, winning the match against Purdue by a score of 2-1 in overtime.
The Scarlet Knights improve to 9-2-2 on the year and 4-1-1 against conference foes with the win.
Despite the great final outcome, the game did not commence beautifully, as the Knights and the Boilermakers (3-9, 1-5) played a sloppy first half.
Neither team was capable of piecing more than a handful of passes together in the attacking third.
“Purdue is a challenging side to beat,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “We needed players to step up.”
The majority of the Knights’ opportunities were off Purdue miscues, but one in particular looked promising, coming in the 35th minute.
After a Rutgers corner kick, the ball ricocheted around the 18-yard box between Rutgers and the Boilermakers.
Finally, Purdue put through a clearance, but it landed right at freshman midfielder Taylor Aylmer’s feet.
She fired a left-footed rocket off the bounce, but it veered straight toward senior goalkeeper Jordan Ginther.
Meanwhile, Purdue was able to muster a couple chances, but only one was a real threat for taking the lead.
Before the 20th minute, a Boilermaker striker had a favorable one-on-one opportunity against Rutgers goalkeeper Alana Jimenez.
The forward attempted to push a shot around the right side of the senior goalie, but Jimenez reacted quickly showing off her impressive reflexes in the process.
After these chances failed to produce goals, the first half ended scoreless with the Knights leading in shots by a 7-2 advantage, including six shots on goal.
The second half started on a similar note without a ton of continuous play from either side and a constant switching of possession.
About 11 minutes into the second frame, the kicking back and forth finally produced the first score of the game.
Rutgers’ senior defender and captain Erin Smith tried beating an extra player on a run in the middle of the field.
Purdue forward Vanessa Korolas stole the ball from Smith and proceeded to dribble past the remaining three defenders toward the left flank of the goal.
The junior then slyly slipped a shot past Jimenez for her second score of the season.
After going down 1-0, something snapped for the Knights, because they started to dominate the game the way they should.
Rutgers began to completely control the flow of the game, and as a result earned a penalty kick just a few minutes after ceding a goal.
Freshman Nicole Whitley placed her shot low and right, but Ginther’s dive was just enough as she got her fingertips to it and pushed the ball wide.
The Knights would strike again though, and in the 63rd minute, they knocked a goal in to tie the game.
Senior captain Madison Tiernan all-out sprinted down the left sideline dusting several Purdue defenders in the process.
“Madison is a competitor who will do anything to win,” O’Neill said. “She is a leader on and off the field and showed that tonight.”
The forward dribbled all the way to near the left goal post and then cleverly kicked it back to junior striker Colby Ciarrocca, who finished it clinically.
Following that goal which equaled the score at 1-1, Rutgers continued to knock on the door for the remainder of the half.
The Knights, in fact, garnered five shots on goal in the second frame, but none was enough to propel the team into the lead.
The closest the team came to jumping in front during regulation occurred in the 83rd minute when Smith drove down the right side of the Boilermaker defense with ease.
She then booted a powerful line drive across the field to the back post of the goal, but it fell mere inches wide.
Once again, the two teams ended the half tied, and so it was on to the extra time.
In the first five minutes of the overtime period, there was a frenzy in front of the Rutgers net.
The Boilermakers peppered several shots at Jimenez in succession, but she stopped every single one.
“I tried to stay big and low in order to get a piece of the shots,” Jimenez said. “Moments like that are why you become a goalkeeper in the first place.”
After the keeper saved the Knights from danger, Rutgers capitalized on a breakaway from Tiernan.
She broke loose from the defense and calmly place her game-winning goal into the back of the net.
“The ball was sent in front of me and I just kicked it as hard as I could,” Tiernan said. “We needed this home win and I’m glad I could help make it happen.”
The victory was huge for the team especially because of their lack of success in other overtime games.
Rutgers was 0-2-2 in matches with extra periods before the match, but Thursday they flipped the script.
”Getting 3 points tonight was crucial for us,” Tiernan said. “Our confidence definitely received a boost and we’ll look to use it for the rest of the season.”
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