Rutgers season comes to end with loss to No. 5 Georgetown in second round of NCAA Tournament
On a partly sunny Friday afternoon in our nation’s capital, the Rutgers women’s soccer team saw its season come to an end via a 2-0 defeat at the hands of No. 5 Georgetown.
The Scarlet Knights’ (12-5-6) loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament was not necessarily a surprising one due to their underdog status versus the Hoyas, but it was a touch disappointing for a squad that nearly won the Big Ten title.
“I felt we were ready and up for the challenge, but we didn’t end up playing our best soccer,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “Every game at this level is tough and Georgetown did a good job of capitalizing on our mistakes.”
Rutgers allowed a goal in each half without scoring one at all, rendering the match the first time the team had been shutout since Oct. 22.
The Knights were uncharacteristically quiet on offense throughout the contest, earning one lone corner kick and only attempting four shots with just two landing on frame.
Rutgers’ defense, on the other hand, was largely effective during the match but suffered a couple of mishaps that ultimately proved costly.
Georgetown improved to 18-2-3 with the victory, and the Hoyas can thank junior midfielder Rachel Corbaz for being a massive help to their effort.
Corbaz had her fingerprints all over the match as the First Team All-Big East nominee notched an assist on both of the goals scored.
The junior extended her lead as the player with the most points within the Georgetown outfit, adding 2 to increase her season total to 38.
The first goal Corbaz set up occurred in the 19th minute of the match when she sent the ball down the middle of the field to redshirt freshman Amanda Carolan.
Carolan was mid-sprint and proceeded to slide by the Rutgers back line and deposit a shot to the back of the net. That early strike gave the Hoyas a 1-0 advantage, which would remain the mark until the last 10 minutes of the game.
In the 82nd minute, Corbaz found senior defender Marina Paul, who fired a header directly at senior Alana Jimenez.
It appeared as though the goalkeeper was going to make the save, but couldn’t secure it in her hands before it crossed the goal line and the referee whistled the play a goal.
The Knights did not perform nearly as well as they had been recently, but the team still put in a phenomenal effort.
“I can count on our players to always give their best even when they’re struggling to find a rhythm,” O’Neill said. “I’ve been with the Rutgers women’s soccer program for 16 years, including the last three as head coach, and I don’t remember a single day where there wasn’t a full effort from the team.”
Hustle and determination have been a staple of the Knights’ game-play for a while, as the side has prided themselves on fighting to the culmination of every on-field battle.
That mentality is a big reason Rutgers advanced to its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament and its third conference final in the last four seasons.
In addition, the Knights have reached the second round of the NCAA postseason in each of the last three years despite an underwhelming 11-9-5 all-time record in the tournament.
2015 had a large part in the improvement of that overall win-loss mark when Rutgers went on a remarkable run all the way to the final four of the College Cup.
After achieving that level of success, there were looming expectations for the Knights this season, but considering the team lost many contributors and had 13 newcomers, they competed impressively.
“We obviously wanted more — to have the season go on as long as possible and win a championship,” O’Neill said. “Only one team goes home fully happy at the end of the year, but at the same time I’m content because our team grew as players and as people each and every day.”
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