Rutgers end of season notes for 2019 season

It may not have had the season that it hoped for, but the Rutgers women’s soccer team rewrote the record books thanks to contributions from one of the strongest senior classes in program history. The Scarlet Knights (15-4-2, 8-2-1) had a nation-leading defensive system and were still powerhouses at the top of the field as well.

With the seniors either tying up their laces for good or pushing themselves into professional careers, Rutgers is left in good hands with junior forwards Amirah Ali and Nneka Moneme at the head. Not to mention, classmate midfielder Gabby Provenzano is a stronghold in every corner of the field. 

MAC Hermann Trophy

Ali is in the running for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the most prestigious soccer award in the NCAA. As 1 of 15 semifinalists for the award, Ali is the third Knight in program history to become the award’s semifinalist, following notable Rutgers alumni Carli Lloyd and Casey Murphy.

Since stepping onto the Banks, the Voorhees, New Jersey, native has started all 62 games for the Knights in her career and has a handful of accolades to her name. Ali is a three-time All-Big Ten selection and earned her second consecutive first-team Big Ten honor this season. 

She helped lead back-to-back second-place finishes for the conference season, recording two assists, 4 goals and 2 game-winning goals in this season’s Big Ten play. Additionally, Ali ended her impeccable first collegiate season as the 2017 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

The MAC Hermann Trophy will reduce the competition to three finalists before announcing the winner at the beginning of January in St. Louis.

New Signee: Emily Sapienza

A fresh pair of cleats is ready to hit the ground running this upcoming spring. Sapienza is a forward and midfielder from Holly Springs, North Carolina, that will join Rutgers early next semester. 

“(Emily’s) commitment and love for the game was a major reason why we wanted her to be a Scarlet Knight,” said Mike O’Neill, coach of the women’s soccer team. “The bigger the game, the better she played! Her passion, leadership, talent and work habits are second to none both academically and athletically. She is going to be a perfect fit for our team culture on and off the field.”

As a member of the NC Courage Girls Development Academy, she helped lead her team to the top bracket in the 2019 Girls Development Academy playoffs. Sapienza is part of a youth-to-professional club team that wears the same crest and colors as the NC Courage professional team.

Sapienza will make an immediate impact for the Knights, training with one of the most highly scouted club teams in the nation. She will likely be a consistent starter for Rutgers next season and will be a great addition to the Knights’ already strong offensive team alongside Ali and Moneme.

With two consecutive NCAA appearances that ended after the first match, Rutgers is looking for a redemption story for another rewrite of the record books. That may come with the added talent of Sapienza and other newcomers next season. 

A new set of starters can also shed light onto the other talented players that fans have been missing out on.

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

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