Rutgers knocks off undefeated Maryland with 2-0 win
On a picture-perfect afternoon at Yurcak Field, the Rutgers women’s soccer team capped a great weekend with a 2-0 win over Maryland.
After a tie with then-No.15 Georgetown snapped the team’s six-game winning streak to start the season, the No. 13 Scarlet Knights (7-0-1, 1-0-0) picked up right where they left off — starting a new winning streak in the process.
After a scoreless first half and countless shots on goal and possessions in the box, Rutgers knew it was on the cusp of breaking through. Nevertheless, it took a Maryland own goal in the 65th minute to get the ball rolling.
“A goal is a goal so we’re fine with that,” said freshman forward Amirah Ali. “But it definitely lifted our spirits and pushed us even more to get this win and I think (the own goal) got the ball moving.”
The Terrapins (6-1-1, 0-1-0), who were undefeated in their own right going into Sunday’s match, were not going down easy and gave the Knights everything they could handle for most of the match.
With the possession pretty evenly split early in the game, Maryland put constant pressure on Rutgers’ defense. During halftime, head coach Mike O’Neill addressed that.
“We talked about keeping the ball and just making better decisions,” O’Neill said. “What we were doing is we were kind of forcing some passes instead of connecting passes and when we force passes we didn’t force (Maryland) to defend, so they were then in a position to attack which means that we have to do more running.”
He thought his team did a better job of maintaining possession of the ball and utilizing the entire width of the field in the second half.
Perhaps a bit unlucky during the first half — and after O’Neill’s halftime notes — the Knights knew they were on the verge of making something happen.
“We definitely knew if we kept attacking and kept creating opportunities that at some point we would be able to finish,” said senior captain and forward Colby Ciarrocca.
So that’s exactly what the team did.
With 26 minutes left in the contest and Rutgers already up 1-0, Ali found a through ball in the box with three Maryland players around her. With nowhere to go, Ali heel-kicked the ball away from the defenders to Ciarrocca who was crashing the box from the right side and found the back of the net to end the sparkling play.
“I saw the ball coming in and I knew that (Ciarrocca) wasn’t going to leave me hanging there and I didn’t have a right angle to shoot so I just knew that I had to find her there and the best way to do that was with my heel,” Ali said.
The Knights shut out their opponent for the eighth straight time to start the season and have now held the opposition scoreless in 740 minutes of play. Their 0.00 goals-against average (GAA) is the best mark in Division I women’s soccer.
“We knew we had to bring it,” Ali said. “We had a couple of articles out there that were doubting us because we’re a young team so we wanted to show them what we have.”
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