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Rutgers keeps No. 13 Penn State to draw after double overtime

On a cold October night, the Rutgers women’s soccer team came out red hot but ultimately tied with conference rival No. 13 Penn State 0-0 in double overtime at Yurcak Field.

From the first whistle on, the Scarlet Knights (9-2-4, 3-2-3) and the Nittany Lions (9-3-2, 5-1-2) were off to the races, trading shots and possession back and forth — including senior forward Colby Ciarrocca’s lefty shot from 15 yards out in the 23rd minute that hit the top of the crossbar.

“I think we did a good job creating chances but it just didn’t fall our way tonight,” Ciarrocca said.

Both teams had their chances though as Rutgers just barely outshot Penn State, 13-12. The Lions had more corner kicks with nine compared to the Knights’ five. Neither team, though, could convert with its chances.

Though just another regular game on paper, on the field it was obvious both teams seriously wanted to outdo each other in what was an incredibly hard fought, fast paced and physical game.

“I think they were up to the challenge,” said head coach Mike O’Neill. “They like the rivalry with Penn State and it was an important game for them as far as RPI. It was an important game for them to see the different areas that they need to get better at, so they were focused and excited for the match.”

Rutgers' defense held its own for the full 110 minutes of action, thwarting every chance against a potent Penn State offense. The Knights were only the second team all season to hold the Lions scoreless — the first was Ohio State.

After a rough weekend, especially for the defense, it was encouraging to see Rutgers get back to getting shutouts.

“It says a lot about our defense to shut out a very good Penn State team,” said junior goalkeeper and captain Casey Murphy. “We worked on it in practice all week, worked on having good habits and denying all shots and services and I think we did well with that today.”

Despite the great performance by the defense and the entire team overall, when asked if they were satisfied with the outcome the Knights plainly said no.

“I wouldn’t say satisfied because we always want to win,” said junior defender and captain Kenie Wright. “But this game is in the past and now we’re moving forward and our next game is Ohio State so that’s the biggest game (now).”

Rutgers will now welcome the No. 12 Buckeyes (11-2-1, 6-1-0) into town for a Sunday matinee game at 1 p.m. Ohio State continues to lead the conference standings.

O’Neill spoke on what a well played game like the one against Penn State can do for his team going forward.

“I think it’s confidence because without confidence you have nothing,” O’Neill said. “We talked about it before the game, you got to be able to see the game and if you don’t play with confidence and courage you can’t see it so I hope that when they leave here that they realize that they grew as a team today and they got better again and hopefully that will take us into the match on Sunday.”

Sunday is also Senior Day as the Knights will honor their seniors Ciarrocca, Murphy, goalkeeper Brianna Scarola, midfielder and captain Christy Monroy and defender Courtney Norton.

As if Rutgers needed it, the festivities should add some extra motivation for a team trying to stay in playoff contention. If the season ended today, the eighth seed Knights would face the one seed Buckeyes in the first round.

“I think Senior Day is always a big day and a day to celebrate our seniors,” Ciarrocca said. “Every Big Ten game is a big game and we need three points.”

If anything, Thursday was a good warmup for the test on Sunday.

“I look at tonight and my expectations are higher for Sunday,” O’Neill said.

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

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