Rutgers notches another OT victory against Maryland
The Rutgers women's soccer team got it done away from home on Sunday as sophomore forward Amirah Ali hit her second walk-off shot of the week to defeat Maryland 2-1.
With the win, the Scarlet Knights improved to 6-1-3 on the season, the best overall record in the Big Ten, but still trail Nebraska by three points for first place.
Overtime is becoming common practice for Rutgers as the match against the Terrapins marks its fourth straight game that required extra time. Fortunately for the Knights, Ali picked up right where she left in the extra period after last week’s last second goal, hitting the winning shot only a minute into overtime on an assist by senior backfielder Kenie Wright.
“We all worked hard, so we just wanted to end the game there. I was just happy to get it done as quickly as we could and as quickly as possible,” Ali said. “It’s definitely nerve racking because it is golden goal, so once one team scores its over, but we have that confidence going into (it) that we will win the game.”
Ali and fellow sophomore forward Nneka Moneme both scored in the match — marking the first time that both Ali and Moneme have scored in back to back weeks.
Once again, Rutgers was the aggressors in this one, which left the defense with a lighter load than in previous games.
Maryland only had two shots on goal the entire game and freshman goalkeeper Meagan McClelland only had one save, her season low.
“They understand the importance of us doing it as a team, and that’s what happens when you’re on the road because you’re always going to be down in numbers with crowd and support, they embrace the mentality of ‘its us against them’ and they understand that to be a good team they need to bring their best and get points on the road,” said head coach Mike O’Neill.
Despite outshooting the Terrapins 13-6, the game was essentially a stalemate for the first 79 minutes. Moneme put a cross from Ali into the right corner to give the Knights the lead late.
But, in the final 4 minutes, Maryland would get its only goal of the game on a rebound from a free kick by Anissa Mose.
“Sometimes when you dominate the game and you give up a goal, then the shoulders go down, and that didn’t happen. Even in the last 3 minutes, we thought we were gonna get one in the last 3 minutes, but then when we got them to overtime we just said ‘let it go’ and that’s exactly what we did and we went out and got one in 53 seconds,” O’Neill said.
It was deja vu for Ali after striking to get the game winning shot yet again, but, she would still put it behind her game winner against Wisconsin last year, she said. She did claim that it was a more satisfying shot than her goal against Iowa last Sunday.
O’Neill believes that his coaching staff’s preparation for this game was some of the best preparation the staff has had for any game this season, and credits his players for keeping the right mindset throughout the game.
“It’s just a humble and hungry group. That’s the key to success, you have to be humble and you have to be hungry,” O’Neill said.
The win marks Rutgers' second road win of the year, the first being a 3-0 win over non-conference foe UConn back in August, but it is also the shortest distance the team will have to travel this week.
The team returned home on bus the following night, but will get on a plane on Wednesday for a two-game set in the midwest against Wisconsin on Thursday and Minnesota on Sunday.
“Every away trip is a business trip so we really just have to stay focused and not make excuses for long plane rides, stick to our game plan, work hard and get the road wins that we need,” Wright said.
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