Multiple Rutgers players awarded with Big Ten accolades
The No. 9 Rutgers women’s soccer team has talked the whole season about the great depth of its roster and how it allows talented individual players to work efficiently together.
The skill of the players is evident through their games. The Scarlet Knights have waded through a tough Big Ten schedule with a 15-2-2 overall record and an 8-2-2 conference record.
They have advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament following their 4-1 victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon and are preparing to take on Ohio State in their next game.
But until then, they are happy with the acknowledgements several of their players received this week for their performances during the regular season.
Sophomore goalkeeper Casey Murphy won the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year award, and was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team.
Murphy is tied for the program's single-season shutout record with 14 clean sheets this season, providing the Knights with stability in the net for each game.
Her teammates and senior defenders in Brianne Reed and Erica Skroski join her on the All-Big Ten First Team, helping to anchor a strong back line that has represented one of the best defenses in the country.
Reed has now made First Team All-Big Ten in back-to-back seasons.
While the Knights are pleased with their award-winners, they also felt as if others were deserving of recognition.
“I’m very proud of what are players have done this year and it’s great to see some of them recognized for their performances,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “At the same time, we thought there were a few more players who were also deserving of awards, so you kind of get a mix of excitement and disappointment. We felt we deserved a little more, but at the same time, we have talked since day one about being ‘30 Strong.’ When one person wins something, we all feel like we are a part of it.”
Skroski took home more hardware for the Knights as she was named the Big Ten Defender of the Year.
Along with her defensive prowess, she has scored two goals and added three assists.
As a team captain, Skroski has also taken on a strong leadership role with her teammates and credits them for allowing her to play the style she hopes to show on the field.
“I couldn’t have won (Big Ten Defender of the Year) without my teammates, coaches and family,” she said. “It’s an awesome award to get and it’s more of a team award because it shows what we really are. How we play is not a fluke and we’re out here trying to win games and going for the championship.”
The same mentality has been passed on to a pair of younger teammates who also took home some conference awards.
Freshman midfielder Kate Walters was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team, scoring one goal and playing in 17 of the team’s 19 games this season.
Teammate and fellow freshman Kenie Wright was also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team as a defender.
Both Walters and Wright played together at Lenape High School in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and have given the Knights versatility in the midfield and backline.
They have fit right in with their teammates and exhibit the same team-oriented mentality that has become a staple of the program.
“It means so much to be recognized like that by the Big Ten, but I could not have done it without my teammates because they are here for me every day,” Wright said. “They make me better every day and it’s great knowing that we are all in this together.”
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