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No. 21 Rutgers readies for Iowa, Nebraska over weekend

Turning momentum back around, the Rutgers women’s soccer team returned to the national rankings after capturing two consecutive Big Ten matches last week.

The No. 21 Scarlet Knights (9-2-1, 3-2-0) will fly out to the Midwest to play Iowa on Friday at 8 p.m., before competing against Nebraska on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Last week, Rutgers secured a key 3-2 double overtime win against Penn State on the road to recover from back-to-back Big Ten losses, which is the most the Knights have scored against their biggest rival. Rutgers then carried that winning mindset over to Yurcak Field for a 2-0 shutout victory to Northwestern.

In both games, senior forward Brittany LaPlant made a name for herself, putting together two crucial goals that changed the Knights’ momentum for the rest of the matches by sneaking past the pressure of multiple defenders. LaPlant, alongside junior forwards Amirah Ali and Nneka Moneme, have made for a very strong Rutgers offense that continues to build with the five assists from senior midfielder Taylor Aylmer.

Scouting the Hawkeyes (12-2-0, 4-2-0)

Iowa is having its best season to date. Similar to the Knights, the Hawkeyes recorded an undefeated non-conference season. They’re riding off of back-to-back shutout wins to the Cornhuskers (3-8, 2-4-0), 1-0 and Michigan State, 3-0.

Iowa has put up 237 shots and 35 goals this season, sitting at the top of the Big Ten. In comparison, Rutgers has made 176 shots and 23 goals this year. Leading the Hawkeyes is Devin Burns with 6 goals and 19 shots on goal. She’ll be the one to watch out for heading into Friday evening’s matchup.

Iowa also has a lot of depth, as more than half its roster has scored at least one goal this season with eight players scoring multiple goals. The Hawkeyes' Claire Graves has recorded seven shutouts and 24 saves, which isn’t as much as sophomore goalkeeper Meagan McClelland’s 42 saves and six shutouts. 

The last time the Knights and Iowa met, Rutgers won 2-1 at home, but the Hawkeyes look like a completely different team compared to its 2018 season. Iowa will be coming out with an extremely aggressive offense — one that the Knights are ready for. But Rutgers will be looking to maintain greater possession of the ball than the Hawkeyes.

Scouting Nebraska 

Shifting towards the bottom of the conference, the Cornhuskers have been struggling for most of the season. Nebraska is coming off of back-to-back losses against the Hawkeyes, 1-0 and then-No. 24 Michigan, 4-1. 

As a team, the Cornhuskers have only scored 8 goals this season with Dakota Chan and Sinclaire Miramontez at two goals each. Nebraska ranks second to last in the conference for shots and goals.

Even though they aren't a strong offensive team, the Cornhuskers have a flat record with the Knights. Neither team has won a game over the other with Rutgers and Nebraska putting up four ties since the Knights joined the Big Ten — three of those ties resulted in a 1-1 double overtime match, which was last year’s results.

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

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