Rutgers looks to take 1st place in Big Ten standings

Aside from a bus ride to Connecticut back in August, the Rutgers women’s soccer team has had the privilege of playing just about every game this season at Yurcak Field. 

The team's potency away from home will be tested this Sunday, as the Scarlet Knights (5-1-3, 1-0-1) travel to College Park, Md. for the first of three road games that will see the team travel as far as Minnesota.

Maryland comes into this one having won only one game in the month of September with an overall record of 3-4-3. It currently averages 1.10 goals per game opposed to Rutgers’ 2.11. Statistically the two teams are closer on defense as both the Terrapins and the Knights have let up an average of 1 goal per game.

Rutgers carries a streak of three straight victories over Maryland dating back to 2015. It will look to make it four in a row and jump into first place in the Big Ten. 

The team currently shares second place with Nebraska and Wisconsin, but a win over the Terrapins and a tie or loss by Indiana will put the Knights in first by the end of this weekend.

For the handful of freshmen that are filling key roles on this year’s squad, this week marks their first real collegiate road trip, and their tolerance for road sickness, jet lag and the general pressures of playing in multiple opponent’s stadiums will be tested on the Big Ten stage.

“It’s very exciting to travel with the team. I always like going to new places and seeing new environments,” said freshman backfielder Shea Holland. “Our mentality is to prepare our bodies for treatment and the bus ride ahead of us.”

But, there are two freshmen who are accustomed to the ins and outs of such a road trip. For Holland and her longtime goalkeeper Meagan McClelland, traveling for soccer is nothing new. 

When the two played for the Player’s Development Academy, they traveled as far as California.

“We travel as a team which is cool, because then we’re all with each other which helps our chemistry on the field,” McClelland said. “We always know that we have each other's backs, it's like that with the whole back line. But, obviously me and Shea have been playing with each other for so long, we always know that we’re there for each other, and we can trust each other and we can put each other in harder situations because of that trust.”

McClelland, who started every game at goalkeeper for Rutgers this season, will look to take her growing chemistry with her teammates on the road against a Maryland offense that has struggled as of late.

“The competition is a lot harder and it’s a different team and different chemistry so it's obviously gonna be a lot different, but soccer’s soccer,” Holland said.

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

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