Late ND goal stuns Knights in top-10 clash
It only takes one goal.
It was a hard fought, physical and emotionally driven match. It was everything it was advertised to be. And it was one the No. 10 Rutgers women's soccer team controlled for most of the game's 90 minutes.
But with 6:05 left in the second half, No. 8 Notre Dame caught the Scarlet Knights on their heels. And in that one moment they stole a 1-0 victory, extending their Big East unbeaten streak to 58 games.
"I like the way we played. We defended very well, we did some great things on the attack, and I really thought we were going to get one a set piece tonight," said Rutgers head coach Glenn Crooks. "But that's soccer. Give them credit, they finished when they had an opportunity."
Notre Dame's goal came under a minute after Rutgers nearly scored on two consecutive set pieces, both initiated by brilliant set-ups by sophomore back Julia Lancos.
The first was a direct kick in the 82nd minute that Lancos nearly netted herself but Notre Dame goalkeeper Nikki Weiss pushed the ball just wide of the net.
Weiss' save led to a corner kick that initiated a scramble inside the box with Rutgers flurrying shots at Weiss until she finally gobbled up the ball and cleared it.
On Notre Dames' next possession in the 83rd minute, forward Jazmin Hall crossed the ball to teammate Lauren Fowlkes who sent a perfectly placed shot from inside the 18-yard marker that flew past senior goalkeeper Erin Guthrie's outstretched arms and into the top-right corner of the net.
"It all happened so fast," Guthrie said. "I thought we marked them pretty well, everything was organized. [Fowlkes] got her foot on the ball somehow and it went in."
Rutgers once again had Notre Dame on its heels after the goal and nearly converted on several solid scoring chances in the match's final minutes. But Weiss, who finished with six saves in the match, stopped all of them.
In total, RU outshot the Fighting Irish 12-9 and took four corner kicks to Notre Dame's two.
"I think we played awesome," Guthrie said. "Besides the score, everything on the scoreboard at the end of the game showed that we outplayed them. And I think that's amazing. This is the best we've ever played against them."
The aggressiveness, the violence and the determination for both teams were there from the opening kickoff.
Though both teams came out the gate playing sharp soccer, Rutgers had a clear advantage through most of the first half.
The Knights outshot the Irish 5-4 in the half but held Notre Dame without a shot between the 13th and 38th minute of the match.
"I would think I would give us a little edge on the overall run of play," Crooks said. "But they've been a top-5 program since I've been here so they're used to responding in big moments. But this certainly shows our team that we can go at it against anyone."