Rutgers struggles on road trip, earning just 1 point in 2 matches

Nobody said it would be easy. After going 8-0-2 to start to the season, the Rutgers women’s soccer team has come back to earth with a record of 1-2-1 in its last four contests — most recently losing to Iowa and drawing with Nebraska.

For the first time this season the No. 23 Scarlet Knights (9-2-3, 3-2-2) failed to register a win on the road, picking up only a single point over the weekend.

“Every game in the Big Ten is a battle and this weekend proved that,” said senior forward Colby Ciarrocca.

Rutgers still sits in a tie for fifth place in the conference with 11 points but is only one point closer to first place — Ohio State (18 points) — than they are to last place — Michigan State (3 points).

Nonetheless, the Knights still only have two losses on the season and rebounded nicely against Nebraska (8-3-3, 2-1-3) on Sunday after they lost to Iowa (7-5-1, 2-3-1) on Friday.

“I'm really proud of our team’s mentality and fight against Nebraska today,” Ciarrocca said.

After a sluggish first half during which Rutgers let up a goal in the seventh minute — the earliest goal the defense has given up this season — it responded in the second half with a quick goal of its own.

Five minutes into the second half, freshman forward Amirah Ali set up fellow freshman forward Nneka Moneme who scored the equalizer — a lefty roped into the top right corner just beyond the reach of the goalkeeper. It was the second goal of her career.

The game, which was televised on ESPNU, went to overtime, and was Rutgers’ fifth overtime match this season (2-0-3), ultimately ending in a 1-1 draw.

On Friday, the team lost 1-0 to the Hawkeyes despite six saves for redshirt junior goalkeeper Casey Murphy. The Knights did find the back of the net in the 52nd minute, but it was later called offside. Eight minutes later, Iowa scored.

Rutgers would battle until the very end, though. In the 89th minute off of a corner kick, sophomore defender Amanda Visco would get a shot off, missing the net by only a couple of inches.

The Knights return home for two matches, but things certainly don’t get easier for them. In what is already an incredibly deep and difficult conference, Rutgers will welcome No. 14 Penn State (9-3-1, 5-1-1) on Thursday and No. 17 Ohio State (11-2-1, 6-1-0) — who currently sits atop the Big Ten standings — on Sunday.

“We have a huge week ahead of us at home so we’re looking to continue to battle as a team and get points in the Big Ten,” Ciarrocca said.

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

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