No. 25 Rutgers hosts No. 11 Penn State in first round of Big Ten Tournament
History tends to repeat itself — and the same can be said for the Rutgers women’s soccer team as it takes on Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament for the second year in a row. But this time, roles are reversed.
The No. 25 Scarlet Knights (12-2-4, 6-2-3) will host the No. 11 Nittany Lions (10-4-3, 6-2-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Yurcak Field almost a year to the day since an unranked No. 7 seeded Rutgers team upset then-No. 21 and conference-No. 2 seed Penn State 2-0 in University Park in the opening round. After that win, the Knights were ranked No. 25 just as they are now. With a win this year they will surely climb up the rankings.
This time around, Rutgers won’t be the underdog — thanks in part to its opening round opponent.
After the Knights took care of business against Michigan earlier this week, they ended their regular season with 21 conference points — tied with the Lions, who still had one game left to play against Wisconsin. Penn State ended up losing that game 1-0 and stayed at 21 points.
After Ohio State, Minnesota and Northwestern all won their matches later in the day, the final seeding was set. Ohio State claimed the top seed outright with 27 points, while Minnesota and Northwestern were tied at 22 points.
Because of the third tiebreaker, which counts the best record by points against mutually-played conference teams seeded above the tied schools at the start of the process (Northwestern beat Ohio State in the regular season while Minnesota lost), the Wildcats earned the No. 2 seed with the Golden Gophers claiming the third seed.
That meant two teams were left with only one spot remaining for home-field advantage. Just like the case with Northwestern and Minnesota, Rutgers and Penn State — tied at 21 points — went to the third tiebreaker.
Since the Knights had a combined four points over Ohio State and Northwestern versus the Lions’ three, Rutgers secured the No. 4 seed and the right to host the opening round match.
Penn State claimed the fifth seed with Wisconsin, Purdue and Iowa rounding out the seeding in that order.
Despite last year, the Knights are hoping for a better outcome this year. Rutgers eventually went on to the Big Ten Tournament finals after another upset victory against then-No. 17 and tournament-No. 3 seed Northwestern, 1-0, in the semifinals before ultimately losing to then-No. 8 and top-seeded Minnesota, 2-1.
Nonetheless, the Knights have the the tools to make another deep run in the tournament. Out of the top eight teams, Rutgers has given up the second fewest conference goals this season and the fewest in total.
The Knights will also be home playing at Yurcak Field where they are 9-1-1 this season. Rutgers’ only meeting with Penn State this year came at home and ended in a 0-0 double overtime draw.
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