Knights’ RPI dips as homestand looms

After splitting last weekend’s road games, the Rutgers women’s soccer team has some work to do to get back to last week’s success.

The Scarlet Knights held the No. 12 RPI last week, but dropped to No. 26 this week after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Louisville.

Though not in an ideal position, the Knights have seven regular season games left to improve their tournament resumé.

“We need to keep working hard on our game,” said freshman forward Jessica Puchalski of how the team can get back on track.

Rutgers’ chances of receiving an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament coincides largely with its final standing in the RPI.

Despite the team’s 8-2-1 record this season, Rutgers has yet to reach the Top 25 in the Coaches’ Poll.

It does not help that the Knights sit in fourth place in the AAC after one week of conference play. All the Knights can do now is prepare for the next opponent and continue to improve.

Three straight home games will aid in Rutgers’ get in good standing by season’s end.

Yurcak Field has been kind to the Knights this season, boasting an undefeated mark in six games on campus. That does not guarantee three more wins.

Freshman midfielder Madison Tiernan believes the team has moved on from its blowout loss to the Cardinals.

“We are going to have losses with the tough schedule that we play this season,” Tiernan said. “Now we just have to move past it and get back to our game.”

Tiernan will need to be one of the players Rutgers counts on in the late stages of the season, as the rookie is tied with senior forward Jonelle Filigno for the second-most goals this season with five.

But the Knights have demonstrated even goal distribution thus far, easing the burden for Rutgers’ forwards.

Seven different players have scored goals this season, while eight different Knights have registered at least one assist.

Rutgers’ offense allows several players to get involved in the action, as attacking can come from about anywhere on the field.

Another key for the Knights in the later part of the season is correcting mistakes that have cost the team goals on the defensive end.

Fixing any defensive issues should be easy for Rutgers, which normally plays solid defense in front of senior goalkeeper Jessica Janosz.

Defensively, Rutgers has given up more than two goals only twice this season — against No. 1 Virginia and Louisville.

The Knights bounced back in a big way after the Virginia loss, defeating Bryant, 4-0.

Rutgers will see if they can duplicate a positive response Friday against Memphis.

For updates on the Rutgers women’s soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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