Rutgers fails to pick up win in final games before conference slate
The Rutgers women’s soccer team wrapped up its final two non-conference games over the weekend and will now look to its next opponent in Nebraska in a game that will kick off Big Ten play on Friday.
It was not a fruitful weekend for the Scarlet Knights (4-1-2) as it started off with an end to their winning streak with a 2-1 loss to Monmouth on Friday night. Then, after a short turnaround, a blown lead in the second half against La Salle led to the team’s second tie of the year.
Against a Hawks team that had come into the weekend winning 3 of their last 4 matches, Rutgers gave up a lead and fell behind within a 10-minute stretch. Those 2 goals by Monmouth’s Alli Deluca and Lexie Palladino marked the first time all year that freshman goalkeeper Meagan McClelland and the team's defense gave up 2 goals in a game.
“I give them a lot of credit. There was a 10-minute period where they capitalized on mistakes by us and that is what good teams do,” said head coach Mike O’Neill.
The Knights had a number of scoring opportunities early in the second with four corner kicks and five shots on goal inside the Hawks' box in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but Rutgers could not get the ball in the back of the net. Monmouth first team All-MAAC goalkeeper Amanda Knaub saved all five shots and finished the game with a season high six saves.
“We came out (of halftime) with an idea of wanted to do. We knew we were down by a goal and it was just about trying to execute … (Knaub) made some really good saves. We had seven corner kicks in the second half and we weren't efficient on them,” O’Neill said.
The only goal for the Knights came from sophomore forward Amirah Ali early in the first half. Rutgers was also without junior back fielder Tiernny Wiltshire who suffered an ankle injury in practice.
“She was missed this evening," O'Neill said. "She has scored a couple goals for us, and to find the back of the net and continue to build momentum, it would have been nice to have her but she just needs to get healthy and we’ll have her in a couple weeks."
The Knights had a short turnaround after their first loss of the season as they faced La Salle only two days later on a rainy Sunday afternoon in a rematch of a first round game in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers carried a 2-1 lead into the final 15 minutes thanks to goals by sophomore forward Nneka Moneme and junior forward Jenna Sayers, but a goal by La Salle’s Amirah Louketis tied it and sent the game to overtime.
In muddy and cold conditions that were a far cry from the 90 degree sun that the Knights have had to deal with in the early part of their schedule, they played two scoreless overtime periods and had to settle for a tie to finish off the weekend.
Rutgers will now prepare for the first Big Ten opponent of the year as it will host Nebraska on Friday evening at Yurcak Field.
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