Looking ahead at Rutgers' Big Ten schedule
With the non-conference season coming to a close, the Rutgers women’s soccer team is ready to storm the field for the Big Ten season. The No. 19 Scarlet Knights (6-0-1) are at the top of the conference and are key contenders to claim their first Big Ten title at home.
In past years, Rutgers has done well in conference play, but when it comes to tournament time, the Knights have yet to make it all the way to the top. No team is safe and anything can happen in the Big Ten.
Big Ten Season Schedule
Rutgers’ first game will be a tough one against 2018 Big Ten Champions Minnesota. Despite their title, the Golden Gophers (1-5-2) are having a rough start to their season with only a single win at their home opener.
The first three Big Ten matches will be at home for a total of six home matches and five away games at Penn State, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State.
Last season, the Knights won nearly all of their conference matchups with their only losses being to the Nittany Lions (4-3-1) during regular play and Minnesota in the Big Ten quarterfinal. Rutgers will look to redeem itself after coming up short last year in the tournament.
Even if the Knights play well during the conference season, it’s not a guarantee that their momentum will continue into the tournament. Although, there’s extra motivation and a home field advantage since the tournament is being hosted for the first time at Yurcak Field in November.
One Game at a Time
When asked about the Big Ten season, head coach Mike O’Neill has his eye on one thing: the next game.
“Our philosophy as a team as a coaching staff is to worry only about the next game,” O’Neill said. “It's one game at a time, but we understand the importance of success in the Big Ten that allows us the opportunity to be part of post-season.”
Instead of looking toward the future, Rutgers is only focused on the present and what is directly in front of it. The Knights understand what’s at stake as hosts for the Big Ten Tournament, but they’re not worried about that just yet. There is no confusion on goals for the season other than putting all of their energy into recovering and preparing for the next game.
“I think no matter what, each game we take it one step at a time,” said senior midfielder Taylor Aylmer. “We always focus on ourselves, what we can do to get better and ways that we're successful. At the end of the day, it is about us and getting better each day to come out with a win.”
For junior forward Amirah Ali, Rutgers will be most successful when it utilizes its talented players in a cohesive manner.
“We have good players, but we never want to be an individual team,” Ali said. “We know that when we play together we're a lot stronger, so we're definitely looking at using everyone on the field.”
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