No. 16 Rutgers defeats No. 12 Wisconsin after dropping 1st match of season to Minnesota
Twenty-six seconds. That’s how long it took for the Rutgers women’s soccer team to break a 0-0 tie in overtime against No. 12 Wisconsin.
In a battle of two top-20 programs, the No. 16 Scarlet Knights (9-1-2, 3-1-1) defeated the Badgers (8-3-1, 2-2-1) thanks to freshman forward Amirah Ali’s overtime heroics.
“We just talked about making sure when we have opportunities to find the pass and make good decisions with that pass, that creates opportunities,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “That’s exactly what happened, and then it calls for moments of individual brilliance. That’s what happens in these types of games and that’s what happened with the finish by Amirah.”
After 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, Rutgers huddled up on the sideline, discussed its game plan and walked back onto the field.
An early takeaway by junior defender and captain Kenie Wright gave the Knights possession of the ball. Wright quickly passed the ball to senior forward Colby Ciarrocca who laid it off to Ali who handled the rest —- tucking her shot to the far left corner.
“All I know is we definitely train for these moments so when it comes we’re definitely ready for it,” Ali said. “We know that (overtime) is when we have to put in the work the most because that’s when the team is drained and the other team is also down from playing so I think it’s just about capitalizing on our opportunities and that’s what we did.”
The quick goal shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock. Going into overtime Rutgers outshot Wisconsin 12-4 and 10-2 in the second half and was constantly putting pressure on the Badger defense.
“We felt through the second half that it was coming and they just stayed focus and didn’t worry about not getting it in regulation,” O’Neill said. “They just said look we’ll get this in this half and they went for it and they got it 20 seconds in.”
The 1-0 win came two days after the Knights lost to Minnesota 2-1 at home, breaking their six-match home winning streak to start the season. The 2 goals allowed were the most Rutgers had given up all season and came on the heels of a 2-1 win against Illinois in which the Knights let up their first goal of the season.
Rutgers’ defense, though, bounced back nicely and blanked a tough Badger offense who was coming off a 2-2 draw against Maryland. It was only the second time Wisconsin failed to score a goal in a game this season.
“We really focused on our details this game,” said sophomore defender Amanda Visco. “We made sure we communicated and we organized everyone so we were good to go.”
The overtime win marked the Knights’ second on the season as they moved to 2-0-2 in overtime contests. Four of their last six games have gone to overtime.
With another late goal in this match, 14 of the 26 goals Rutgers has scored have come in the second half or later.
“I think maybe it’s just an adjustment period,” O’Neill said. “We do a lot of preparation and they get a chance to prepare and they’re knowledgeable within that but maybe it takes them a little bit to kind of understand and then put the execution together.”
Better late than never.
The Knights will now hit the road to take on Iowa and Nebraska over the weekend before coming back home to face Penn State and Ohio State. But after this win, I’m not sure anyone wants to face Rutgers at home.
“This is our field and we’re not going to let anyone beat us here anymore,” Ali said.
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