No. 20 Rutgers welcomes Maryland
With its undefeated streak slashed, the Rutgers women’s soccer team is eager to get back on track in a Big Ten kind of way. The No. 20 Scarlet Knights (7-1-1, 1-1-0) will face off against Maryland at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Yurcak Field for their last home game before heading to Penn State.
Rutgers dipped in this week’s rankings in the United Soccer Coaches poll and is one of two Big Ten teams, alongside Wisconsin, ranked in the top 25. Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Penn State are all receiving votes in the poll.
Learning from their last game against the Badgers, the Knights struggled in taking and maintaining possession of the ball, which will be a focal point during this weekend’s match.
“Keep the ball,” said head coach Mike O’Neill on improvements from the Wisconsin game. “It’s all about keeping the ball. If you don’t keep the ball, you’re going to defend. The greatest form of defending is possession and we weren’t a very possession-oriented team.”
What the Badgers succeeded in, Rutgers struggled in. More than anything, the Knights know how to compete and will take the loss on their shoulders, using that as fuel against the Terrapins (5-2-2, 1-1-0).
“I never question their desire to compete, but we just need to be more efficient,” O’Neill said.
Like Rutgers, the Terrapins came away from the Big Ten opening weekend with a win and a loss. Maryland fell 3-0 to Wisconsin for its Big Ten opener before regaining a glimmer of hope with a 2-0 win against Minnesota.
The Terrapins' Alyssa Poarch and Mikayla Dayes are two key players to watch out for. This season, Poarch has recorded 17 shots on goal with 5 of them going in, while Dayes has 11 shots and 4 goals to her name.
Dayes is a center back and if she’s got the ball at the back of the field or on a corner kick, she’ll head straight towards the net. Additionally, Dayes plays well wherever she is on the field and was recognized as last week’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for Maryland's 3-0 victory against Princeton.
If history repeats itself, the Knights will take the win over the Terrapins. The last time they played, Rutgers secured a 2-1 overtime win over Maryland. The Knights has won 4 of the 5 matchups against the Terrapins, with all wins being over the past four years.
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