Rutgers secures double overtime win over Iowa
Knights notch four points over weekend
It took nearly six overtime periods over the past week, but the Rutgers women's soccer team finally got back in the win column on Sunday.
A double overtime victory over Iowa capped off the emotional roller coaster that was the Big Ten opening weekend play for the Scarlet Knights (5-1-3, 1-0-1), as they now look ahead to their first real road trip of 2018.
Rutgers opened its first of 11 conference matches against Nebraska on Friday evening, and it was familiar for two programs that have tied in their previous three matches. The two teams kept the trend going with their fourth consecutive tie, making this the Knights’ second tie of the season after tying with La Salle last Sunday.
“I do think it’s a little bit disappointing, I feel like we were the better team, but I just think we need to put it behind us,” said junior backfielder Chantelle Swaby.
While the tie is not what Swaby and her teammates were looking for to start off the weekend, they were facing the possibility of another loss for more than 85 minutes. After a penalty kick by the Cornhuskers leading scorer Savanah Uveges found the back of the net, Rutgers could not come up with an equalizer until its back was against the wall in the final five minutes of regulation.
A nearly 100-second sequence inside the Nebraska 6 yard box saw a plethora of passes and mixed possessions by the Knights, before junior midfielder Taylor Aylmer bounced a block shot into the left side of the net for her first goal of the season.
“It was just a mindset of ‘we were down 1-0’ and just to make sure that no matter what, find the way to get the ball in the back of the net. Just work your hardest, win your individual battles and find the back of the net,” Aylmer said.
The goal sent the game to an overtime period which saw Rutgers outshoot the Cornhuskers 4-2, but ultimately all four shots would go wide of the net, leaving the Knights to settle for the tie.
Head coach Mike O’Neill and his team quickly turned their attention to Sunday’s matchup against the Hawkeyes looking for a different result, and thanks to sophomore forward Amirah Ali, they would just barely get that result.
After missing on three straight corner kicks in the second half, outshooting Iowa 16-6 and even having the go-ahead goal rescinded on a foul, Rutgers found itself in overtime for the third consecutive game.
“Getting to overtime is important, because that means we didn’t lose in regular time, but we definitely have a second gear that we kick into in overtime where we can get the job done and take care of business,” said senior backfielder Madison Pogarch.
Another scoreless overtime period passed and as the minutes remaining turned into seconds, the Knights were facing the possibility of their third straight tie.
But, with 12 seconds left in the second overtime, Ali took a pass from senior backfielder Kenie Wright and shot a diagonal cross into the corner of the net for a walk-off game winner.
“At that point it was 20 seconds left, we knew we had to give it our all. We couldn’t afford a tie today so Nicole gave it all she could to put a touch on that ball and I knew I had to be there for her and the team and finish,” Ali said.
For Ali, the goal invoked memories of her walk-off shot against Wisconsin last year in one of the team’s biggest upsets of that season.
But, the goal in this game truly came down to the wire as only 11 seconds separated Rutgers from another tie and a bigger hole to climb out of point-wise going forward.
“Our standard is to win at home, and lately we haven’t been having that going our way, so we definitely wanted to get a win and show everyone what we're made of in the Big Ten,” Ali said.
The win got Rutgers a critical three points in the standings as it is now locked in a three way tie for second place in the Big Ten with the Badgers and the Cornhuskers.
O’Neill believes that the win can be the beginning of something for his team as it continues its campaign next Sunday on the road against Maryland.
“Every team needs a moment, and I feel like that was a moment for us. What we decide to do with that moment is up to the team... Those moments bring teams together, the timing of that goal, the timing of this team is everything that we needed,” O’Neill said.
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