Junior’s game-winning goal erases early deficit
The Rutgers women’s soccer team needed to rally late to secure a 2-1 victory Friday night against Villanova.
Senior defender Tricia DiPaolo found junior forward Stefanie Scholz at the top of the box for the game-winning goal with 31 seconds left in regulation.
DiPaolo sent the ball in from 30 yards, which found freshman midfielder Madison Tiernan. Tierman buried the ball into the back of the net to tie the game in the 72nd minute.
Down 1-0 at halftime of what already had been physical, hard-fought game, the Scarlet Knights (7-1-1) increased the intensity on both sides of the ball as they outshot the Wildcats (3-4-2), 16-1, in the second half.
“We came in at halftime down a goal and we all looked each other in the face and said we’re not losing this game, we don’t lose on our home field,” DiPaolo said.
Rutgers needed that offensive spark with time running out.
“It was a great collective team effort,” Scholz said. “I think we came out in the second half really strong and put Villanova under a lot of pressure.”
But the game may leave the Knights in a predicament, as freshman defender Erin Smith went down during the game with an ankle injury.
There has been no official update on Smith’s status for this weekend.
Senior forward Jonelle Filigno was also injured that game but returned late in the contest.
Defensively, the Knights shut down Villanova’s offense in the second half after allowing a goal just before halftime.
Head coach Glenn Crooks gave credit to his back line for the second-half turnaround.
“Halftime was not pretty,” Crooks said. “The defending on the goal was poor, especially at that juncture in the game where we controlled so much of the play. Now the next step of that is what we said at halftime — ‘What is the character of the team? How are we going to approach this?’”
Rutgers improved to 6-0 at home and, more importantly, finished its non-conference schedule on a four-match winning streak.
That will begin Friday, when Rutgers travels to Ohio to face Cincinnati in its American Athletic Conference opener.
Until then, the Knights can use these types of wins for learning experience as tournament season gets closer.
“These are the kind of games that will come back and help us get into the NCAA’s,” Tiernan said. “I thought we pulled together as a team at halftime and showed that we had more heart.”
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